the battle

I have two sides, like everyone else; one of logic and reasoning, and one of emotion.

Everyday I face moments where I need to make a decision, but it’s never as easy as an ‘okay’ and ‘probably not’. A second debate between logic and emotion usually takes place before choosing an answer. Logic usually leaves emotion in the dust.

Things get even more complicated here, and I’m trying hard to pen down my extremely jumbled thoughts, so that both you and I can understand me better.

Both logic and emotion will give way to either a selfless or selfish act. When it comes to friendships and romantic relationships, a logical decision will typically lead to a selfless act, while my emotional decisions will be purely selfish and obnoxious.

Like I said, the logical side usually wins out in the end. It’s a good thing, to a certain extent; I end up choosing a path which will (hopefully) try to mend, help, or provide, at the cost of getting hurt or neglected in the process. It’s been like that for awhile… Probably since 2012 or 2013.

Here I am now, realizing all I did was make someone I loved scared, unhappy, unconfident. Emotionally, I wanted to scream at her, to point out how unreasonable she was being, and to tell her how I constantly fought down those very emotions since two weeks ago in order to keep her from being unhappy. Here I am, disregarding my own emotions for now, because what’s the point of adding more debris to a hurricane? Here I am, making the logical decision to drop the rock before I collapse on the both of us, because I know this will be good for her in the long run. I think I really do love her, and I’ll be sad to see her go with a more patient and submissive partner someday.

This post in itself makes up for all the ‘selflessness’ I’ve mentioned. This is such a selfish, attention-seeking post, but I think this made me feel better, so there. This time round, my emotional side beat logic to it. I’m just left with a sense of helplessness and lostness.

I don’t know what to do for the rest of my summer.

Loveless, Chapter II

Disclaimer: I’m starting a very informal project called Loveless, detailing some very vaguely related stories, past and present that occurred in my life. I was very inspired by Haruki Murakami’s ability to write about things in daily life and make them sound absolutely magical. This is, thus, also an outlet for me to try out different writing styles (chiefly, Murakami’s). This might be discontinued anytime, and post frequencies can range from daily to annually. I hope you enjoy.

Read Chapter I here.


A girl came into my life 30 days ago and left today. A very short comment on an Instagram video led to us finding each other on Facebook, and on that same day, we started texting. Meeting a girl online and reaching a stage where I was relatively comfortable with her without any physical contact was a rarity for me; I tried it with a medic student once and struggled everyday not to make it an awkward experience for her. But this girl was a strange exception.

She is a very strange person. I liken her to a cat, and how I’ll never know if a cat is about to claw me or rub its side against my shin. She is a lot like that. She could be very entertained by our conversations, and then she would lose interest. She would come into my life seeking me, and then leave abruptly without a goodbye. I’ve never met someone with a more accurate representation of ‘hot & cold’. It intrigued me, and kept me talking to her.

I remember the first time we saw each other physically with razor sharp clarity. I had sped through the New Pantai Expressway towards Bangsar, not wanting to be late (my mother had forced me to pick up the weekly maid earlier). I slid into a parking spot underneath Bangsar Village II five minutes early and hung around the ground floor after texting her. She replied: “I’m already here.” which sent me into another sprint, this time on legs, slowing down to a controlled stride awhile before our meeting spot. She was standing outside a café, looking just as pretty as her photos were. She wore a white shoulder-less top, with a gentle frill that ended under her chest.

She looked up from her phone and saw me, and smiled gently. My first words to her were “I’m not technically late.” She lifted her hands in response. A little paper bag with a wrapped present and a note was in it. All I felt was relief, because I had luckily decided to bring a gift as well. Later I would have guessed the present to be The Kite Runner, as it was the only book she had talked to me about earlier, and I was right. I slightly clumsily pulled out an aged, yellowed copy of The Five People You Meet In Heaven and proffered it to her. We had both gotten each other books.

The day went on like any other outing does; we went around the area with no plans in mind, content with the presence of a companion. We were comfortable with each other, or at least, I was. I’d like to think she was too. I dropped her at church after. We met again a second and last time at another café, but something was missing, like puzzle pieces that just mischievously decided to disappear on their own. She was colder, less receptive, and obviously upset at something, but she never revealed it. I tried finding out by any non-straightforward means possible, but she just stayed icy.

On Friday night (read: Loveless, Chapter I), three days ago, I told her to tell me what upset her. She told me I wasn’t real, and that she didn’t know me. She did not like me flirting with other girls. She also told me another man approached her last night that touched her deeply. I asked her if she wanted space; she said it was fine. I had initially only wanted to texted her because of the continuous, unbearable pain in my belly. She, coincidentally, had not been sleeping almost at all the past few days.

On Saturday, we talked like normal. I’d only just realized that night that we were not compatible in terms of the way we saw and thought about things. I was too open for her; I would upset her because of my lifestyle and my thought processes. On Sunday, she sent me some short messages saying she’d reply me later. She never did that day. I went to bed.

Today I woke up, and she had left my life, just as suddenly and as similarly as she had come in. All she left was a superficial message announcing her departure, and a hasty reply to my messages the previous day. I absent-mindedly scrolled down a few times, as if to see if I had missed anymore messages. There were none. I never got to know her in the end. All I found out about her were meaningless habits and quirks. She ended up only being an acquaintance. I felt slightly sad about how wasted the 30 days were; everything we did was nothing but a complete waste of effort and niceties.

Otherwise, I felt nothing. I could have been sad about losing her, and maybe I will tonight, but until now, I still feel nothing, because she never belonged to me, and I was never hers either.

Loveless, Chapter I

I would always see her at night, when the clutter of thoughts in my head I struggled to pipe down gave way to sleep, and dreams. I’ll be in a cab, and I would see her by the sidewalks of Jalan Bukit Bintang, the only clear, sharp figure in a sea of moving blurs. I never saw her face; she was always turned away from me. But I knew it to be her: Her petite frame, brown, shoulder-length hair falling beautifully on her back. The cab would somehow take me to the 57th floor of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, and I’d get off, and she’d be there, looking out the glass windows, watching the sun stain the background of the Twin Towers a gorgeous palette of pink, gold, blue, orange, red, and yellow. I would call out to her and attempt to take steps forward. She would tilt her head gently to the side as if hearing my call, and begin to turn around. I would wake up every time she did that. The image of her standing before the evening sky would be printed behind my eyelids long after I woke.

I had that dream on a daily basis in Europe. It’s a frequency that should’ve been worrying. But I didn’t really care for that; like repeatedly reading a book which story you didn’t want to end, I made myself have that dream over and over again, if only to finally be able to reach out and touch her shoulder. All day I would convince myself it was a lost cause, that a bond between her and I was never meant to occur. She’s a world of difference from you, I’d say to myself. By night I would change my mind.

I came back to Subang a week ago and the dreams stopped. That was probably cause I barely slept, I had the worst jet lag I’ve ever experienced in my 21 years on Earth. Also I was out every single day, so I was probably too tired to give her a second thought.

Except last night.

I was pretty sick; the doctor I saw the next day would tell me it was a stomach flu, and that it’s been going viral (literally) in Malaysia lately. Without any medicine or reassurances from a specialist that night though, I pressed a cushion against my stomach and willed the cramps to go away. For hours I just lay down and felt pain, and I really thought I was a goner. Somehow I fell asleep, clutching the cushion hard against my front.

They say if you put pressure on your chest while sleeping, there’s a higher chance of you experiencing a dream that night. This might’ve happened to me, or maybe it was just chance. EIther way, I started dreaming.

I was in that cab again, but there were more details this time round. I remember wearing a brown jacket, with a striped tee underneath with my navy jeans; my typical outfit in the UK. There was a huge bag beside me. The cab driver was spouting nonsense, I swear. It just sounded like absolute gibberish, but I didn’t find it weird cause, well, it was a dream. And then she appeared.

There she was on the sidewalk, and this time, she was facing my direction. She was with two other friends of hers. She had her hair tied up in a ponytail, and she was wearing a mint green cardigan over a white tank, and brown shorts. The mint green was so vivid. The cab driver turned a corner, and somehow, she caught my eye through the window of the cab. Her face registered mild shock, and unsureness. Slowly she realized it was me, and her expression slowly gave way to… relief? Gladness?

I stumbled out of the cab, and struggled to fish ringgit notes out of my wallet. The driver was babbling about how he’s seen me before every single day, but I ignored that. Stuffing the money into his hand, I ignored the bag in the backseat and almost ran over to her. I stopped right in front of her, and we just looked at each other for awhile. She was just as pretty as I remembered her to be. She smiled shyly at me. We both made a move forward, and we embraced. I could feel the fabric of the cardigan under my fingers, I could smell her scent. I didn’t really know how to feel. She pulled back slightly, and gently kissed my cheek. Then she whispered into my ear, and I could almost feel her smiling against the side of my head.

Welcome back.”

I opened my eyes, and it was very early in the morning; around 5am. I looked out the windows of my room. The sky had a familiar tinge of orange, pink, and red, but it was softer, weaker, and not as beautiful as the sunset I had known in my dreams. The pain was better now. I barely felt it.

I slowly reached out, as if to grab the sky and that it would somehow lead me back to her, and touched nothing.

5 steps to become a Liar. Number 3 will blow your balls off.

The world isn’t fair.

 

I know honest, good people who do not boast about their work, are completely genuine, and build their solid foundation on legitimate achievements. The topic isn’t about these people, I’m just describing them here to make a contrast.

I know people who’re definitely good people, but have hid behind a mass of lies so huge it’s as big as that wall of bodies Leonidas and his guys made in 300. These guys build on their lies, one after another, and they’ve gotten so skilled at coming up with bullshit on the spot, it’s truly remarkable. They lie about their achievements, about meeting great people and how those greats are offering them jobs, when all they did was actually take a picture with a celebrity. They lie about how they’re going to go overseas to study a double degree on ‘Save The World’ and ‘Looking Like A Saint’ with honours, and end up somewhere much, much lower. They’re boasters. They’ve spent their whole life boasting and exaggerating about how they just paid for a guy’s meal, grew wings out of their asses, etc. They’re also plagiarisers. They take someone else’s work, ensure the average human cannot know for certain that it isn’t his original product, and use it to gain credit. They’re Liars.

There’s this one guy I know who’s that, above. All that. He boasts about his fake achievements, he steals the work of others and uses them for himself, and he lies, he’s a big time liar. I would’ve admired him, you know? I would’ve given him props for being such a slimy, dirty snake, but he isn’tThe thing about him is, he’s a weak, WEAK liar. My family, my friends who actually have 20/20 vision have caught him in his bullshit so many times it’s stupid that he still thinks it works around us.

And even now, I still haven’t gotten to the meat of this post. It’s not about the Liar, it’s not about the community of bullshitters and free riders. It’s not about the good people who don’t get what they deserve.

I’m here to rant about the people who worship these Liars.

I see these humans, these beings that are apparently equal in mind and body to me and the rest of Earth. Somehow, they don’t possess enough intelligence to avoid being hoodwinked by a Liar. They lick the dirt off his boots, and admire his life, and wish to be like him, and they have no idea what they’re wishing for. And you know what really gets me? These people aren’t kids. They’re ADULTS. These adults, ranging from guys my age to people who had at least a decade of time more than I did to learn and grow, are being tricked by the facade in front of them. They’re giving the Liar chances, opportunities that he doesn’t know what to do with! It frustrates me that the corporate world which I grew up to be in awe of, to respect, has such pathetic observational skills. He’s not even fucking good at this game! You’re feeding these guys, and you’re inspiring others to pick up the mantle. It’s not a healthy cycle.

You guys on Facebook wanna be like a Liar? Too fucking easy. Follow these steps.

1) Lie. Simple, right? Take a picture with a CEO of a good, well-known company, or a president of some big shot society. Tell the world he’s gonna offer you a job when you’re done with your degree without an interview, scot free. He wouldn’t know; he’s got too much stuff on his hands to bother with your li(f)e.

2) Create a personality. Be the angel. Be the lucky guy. Be the high achiever. Be the guy dishing out good advice all the time, always does great things and has great thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t these things, but the world needs to see it. Social networks are the best.

3) Do good things. This one’s too easy. Bring a stack of cash wherever you go, and be ready to give 10 times the amount you normally give to a beggar, or buy him a big meal. Make sure it’s not just 20 cents, it’s gotta be a good one. Not willing to contribute that much money to those who need it? Just follow step 4 below.

4) Tell the world. Follow the exact opposite of Proverbs 27:2: Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Make sure you write down exactly what miracle happened to you or what good deed you did in all its glory.

5) Exaggerate. Gave only 10 cents to a beggar? No problem! Just write on Facebook that you gave Rm100. Who’s gonna know how much you gave exactly anyway? Only the beggar, and he’s not friends with you on Facebook.

 

With all that above, you’re set to becoming an honest-to-God liar.

 

In all honesty, I don’t think there’s anything wrong or evil about it. The liars I know aren’t evil people. Even if you didn’t give money to a beggar and bragged about doing it anyway, I’m not a Christian, so in my books, you wouldn’t be going to Hell. And if you actually did? Great job! You contributed to poverty, so I guess I can’t complain when there’s a net benefit to the world. I’m just very annoyed and having a hard time dealing with the fact that the world isn’t fair.
So don’t call me out saying this is a biased rant, I’m just venting some feelings out, and I stand by my points, including the ones immediately above about how “lying isn’t the worst thing you can do”.

caffeinated chapter II: Grindsmith

I was told about this “coffee box” behind Harvey Nicols by a friend, and I went around the city looking for it. About 5 minutes down behind Harvey Nicols I saw this down below.   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset     Cute little thing, isn’t it? I ran eagerly towards it, cause it was raining (you can’t really tell), and I was pretty soaked. You could fit 10 people in there at the most, and everyone has to be all up in your face and breaching your comfort zone. And that’s the whole idea of Grindsmith. Not the bit about intentionally cramping people, but a cost-efficient sized café. And I love it.   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset     This thing was made out of an abandoned shipping container. From the picture above you can tell there’re really limited seats. The close proximity of everyone sitting in that little box encourages (forces) us to carry conversation with each other, and I kinda liked that idea too. Personally though, I do prefer larger spaces when it comes to drinking coffee. Malaysians reading this post would probably know of Whisk at Empire Shopping Gallery, the guys who were in the coffee business before all the trend-followers and bandwagon jumpers annoyingly set up their respective coffee shops. Whisk has great coffee, but I’ve always found the tiny enclosure a little claustrophobic.   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset   As usual, the café makes excellent use of wooden furniture and places them in a sort of neat clutter, which I like. Loads of glass, so there’s plenty of light. I’m honestly a little tired of cafés with warm, dim lighting.   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset   I had myself a cappucino for £2.70, a little on the pricier side for coffee in Manchester. However, it’s a much larger cup of coffee than most of the other cafés, so it’s worth the price. It was a little bit on the sour side; I think I prefer the coffee at Fig + Sparrow’s still. This was still okay though. It’s not nearly as sour as the stuff at North Tea Power, that was just overpowering. I just spent about an hour sitting there and chatting with Luke (the barista and co-founder), and a couple customers. Apparently this café was inspired by another container café in Tokyo, Japan. They funded the Grindsmith project on Kickstarter, and successfully reached their goal of £10,000. The whole thing including the coffee machines and electricity costed them about £25,000. That’s under MYR150,000. It’s pretty damn affordable, I’d say.

 

I’m just gonna fill up some space with pictures of the café.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset IMG_3284     I love that they have siphons; it reminds me of a Japanese café I worked at back in Malaysia. That café back home used only siphons to make their coffee (it’s a very Japanese thing). Their Japanese blend of Sumiyaki coffee was great.   Overall, I enjoyed the coffee and the place, and I’m coming back with some coffee junkies to earn these guys some money.   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset     Grindsmith, Greengate Square, M3 5AS Mon-Sat 7.30am-7.00pm Sun 9.00am-5.00pm Follow them on Twitter.

caffeinated chapter I: Fig + Sparrow

Yet again I introduce another category in my blog: Caffeinated. With the amount of time I have left in Manchester, I’ll have just about enough time to blog about every single café in this city, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. We’ll start off today with my favourite spot for coffee, called Fig + Sparrow on Oldham Street.

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I personally think the environment in which you drink your coffee is just as important as the quality of what you’re drinking, and these guys nail it perfectly. They make use of wooden furniture and floors to give it your typical, rustic café mood, with a fantastic use of fairy lights (you can see them behind the little wooden chairs and tables in the picture above, they’re pretty in the evening).

I don’t usually eat at cafés, but they’ve got a tasty-looking breakfast and lunch menu, so you guys might want to give their food a try. They also serve a huge range of teas. I haven’t given those a go either, but I’m planning to order some green sencha the next time I’m here.

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While I usually go for a cappucino or a latté (less of the latter these days; my mom converted me to cappucinos), I ordered a flat white today, a favourite of my fellow and more experienced coffee junkie Roshan Kanesan. Click on his name to check his blog out.

The coffee here’s so, so good. And it’s a stronger blend than the average coffee in Malaysia, something that’s commonplace here in Manchester. This flat white was a fucking kick. It almost tasted like espresso with a dash of milk. It tasted amazing, anyway. (Note: To anybody drinking coffee with sugar, do try giving your coffee a try without. I don’t scoff at people who add sugar, but it does kill the flavour of your coffee.)

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The hipster side of me also appreciates how they couldn’t care less about latté art. I never really cared for it, I just want to drink good coffee (they actually can make latté art, they’ve done it for one of my cappucinos before. The swirly things on your foam’s just an added touch, I don’t find it necessary at all).

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I’m currently blogging this from the café itself. You can see the beginnings of the blogpost in the picture above. #BLOGCEPTION. That’s my favourite spot. These days, it’s been sunny and stuff, so I’ve been drinking the stuff outside on those tiny chairs and tables you saw earlier on.

Great coffee, coupled with great classic jazz music, friendly staff, and a pretty café, this checks everything on my “fantastic café” list. I come here at least once a week, and anyone in Manchester should too!

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Fig + Sparrow, 20 Oldham St. (It’s a 2 minute walk from Picadilly Gardens)

Check out their website here.

They also have a Twitter account.

That’s café #1 on Caffeinated. Next up: Takk Coffee House. Thanks for reading, and keep on drinking!

the perfect fit

All Nick wanted was to get home.

It had been a terrible flight from Manchester to KL; there was a delay, giving him only a 20 minute transit at Dubai, meaning he and a mob of Malaysians and tourists had to sprint, shout and shove their way to the plane bound for KLIA. His guitar case had come in handy, at least. It helped buffet a couple of dismayed passengers who had tried to push past him. Reaching Malaysia, he texted his parents.

“HERE! Fucked up flight. Tell you about it later. Grabbing baggage.” Sent.

A whole hour later, and his bag was still nowhere in sight. Turned out a huge group of passengers from Dubai had a whole load of holy water brought back with them to KL. For more than half an hour, there were no bags; just boxes and boxes of holy water. To make it even better, Nick’s phone had chosen the most fantastic time to run out of battery. His parents probably thought a bomb threat had been announced and he was stuck in immigration. He gritted his teeth and stared at the never-ending conveyer belt of sacred H2O. It’s a free country, thought Nick, it’s a free country. Tolerance is key. Tolerance is key.

At 11.00pm, Nick eventually got hold of his baggage, and a couple hugs and tears and bear hugs from dad later, he was in the back seat of his dad’s new car, waiting for the final part of his journey to end. He felt a hand tighten around his.

He looked up at Ellie beside him. She had insisted on coming to surprise him, when Nick had adamantly told everyone not to waste a 40-minute drive to come see him looking like he just went through an 18-hour flight (which he just did). She had hid behind Nick’s giant of a dad, and grabbed him right after his mom’s turn, giving him little space to breathe.

But he didn’t mind.

For 8 months, he had been waiting to see that cheekily beautiful face in the flesh, instead of a flat, 2-dimensional image on a computer screen. That first hug at the arrival hall was a burst of senses: Wrapping his arms around her petite frame; breathing in the scent of her hair he recognized on his sheets; seeing her pretty eyes tear up in front of him. There was so much physicality to catch up on.

He couldn’t wait to get home.

“What’re you staring at?” Realizing he had been creepily fixing his gaze on her for the whole inner monologue he just had, he blushed and hastily looked away. He could see her smirking teasingly out of the corner of his eyes. Don’t look, he warned himself. You’ll jump on her.

“Nothing. I dunno. You,” he said, leaning back and closing his eyes, letting a huge sigh out. He ran his thumb over each of her fingers. The feeling of their hands touching kept him comfortable and calm. Casting a glance at his parents, and then at Ellie, he mouthed the words ‘I missed you’ at her. She grinned and mouthed back, ‘Ditto’. Eventually, both their smiles faltered and they just looked at each other. There was a physical tension, a longing ache that had been growing ever since he had left for the departure hall back in September. Now he was here, inches away from her, the tension was highly strung like a piano wire. He let his thumb drift slowly up her wrist and forearm, feeling her shiver. Nick knew Ellie felt the ache, too. They wanted to be alone.

They didn’t say a word the entire journey back. Dropping his bags and lazily declaring he’d unpack when he’d finished hibernating, he dragged his legs up to his old room, Ellie following behind him.

He switched on a bedside lamp, bathing the place in a soft, warm light. Mom had obviously cleaned it out that day. Otherwise, everything was just as he had left it 8 months ago.

“This place hasn’t changed at all.” Nick turned around, a little disturbed and mostly impressed at her apparent ability to read his mind. Ellie had just shut the door behind her. They were alone. His lips were suddenly really, really dry.

“Yeah. It didn’t, huh?” said Nick stupidly. She took a few small steps closer.

“Have I changed much?” She was right in front of him now. He was a head taller than Ellie. She’d have to tiptoe to reach his height.

“No,” said Nick, “Well, you got taller.” She smiled playfully at that remark, then made a mock pouty face.

“So I haven’t gotten any prettier since then?” Nick almost laughed at how cute she looked; the effect was so much more amusing face-to-face. Speaking of face-to-face, they were really close now. Intimately close. It’s been 8 months. He was going to fuck this up with the worst kiss ever.

“You can’t improve perfection,” Nick said, not breathing. He felt his hands automatically wrap around her body. She sighed at the contact and reciprocated.

“You people pleaser, you,” she teased. She lightly brushed her lips against Nick’s.

“I haven’t showered,” he said hoarsely. Ellie grinned, her eyes dancing with life and cheek.

“That’ll have to do for now.” And just like that, the tension broke. He firmly pulled her into him and kissed her deeply. And into that intimate contact he tried to pour all of the emotions, the missed things, the longing, the insecurity he had felt 7000 miles away from home. He felt her lightly run her fingers through his hair, tugging softly, and he groaned. He missed all of this. He missed her.

“God, I’ve missed you, Ellie,” muttered Nick, pulling away and guiding her towards his bed. He sat down on the edge, and Ellie proceeded to sit on his lap, cradling his face gently.

“You said that just now.”

“I didn’t actually. Mom and dad were there.”

“Same difference,” she laughed.

“No.” Nick looked at her seriously. “It’s not the same. Like how we talked over Skype. And now.” His gaze softened, and he nuzzled his head into her chest.

“I’ve missed you.” Smiling slightly, Ellie stroked the back of his head, then tilted it up, making eye contact.

“I miss you more.” He saw her eyes glaze over with love and want and everything else, and they kissed again, hard. Nick slowly slipped his hands under her top and lightly caressed her bare sides and back, the smooth skin he had longed for so much, pulling her close against his torso. He heard her moan gently into his mouth from the sensation of his rough, callused fingers on her soft body, and he laid her down on the bed.

______________

Hours later into the night, they just laid together, basking in the physicality of the moment, and the presence of each other’s warm, living bodies, skin on skin. He held her hand, and she was snuggled close to his, her head against his chest. He had remembered the first time of each different contact. They had first held hands when they crossed a road, and Nick had grabbed her hand without thinking about it to lead her to safety. He had wanted to pull away after, but stuck with it. It had been a clumsy grip, and his palms were sweaty with nerves.

The next was at the movies. It was both of their first times at the Platinum cinemas at the Pavilion Shopping Complex. The tickets had cost a bomb, and they were provided with two huge, retractable seats that could morph into beds at the push of a button. The down side was that there was so much space between the seats. But one was big enough to fit both of them, so they squeezed into one in the end, wasting a ticket. Halfway through the movie, she had gently laid her head on his chest, making him go stiff with shock and euphoria. He had awkwardly patted her head, and proceeded to stroke her hair for the rest of the movie.

Two years later, her hand was naturally resting in his, and he had his hand on her head, lightly stroking her hair and teasing her ears. They were huddled comfortable together. It was a perfect fit. And he couldn’t have been happier to have her back beside him.

He took a moment to look at her. Her eyes were closed, and she was breathing deeply. Her soft, brown hair felt amazing under his fingers. She was petite and fit overall, but she had these slightly chubby cheeks she was always insecure about, and he found them to be the cutest things ever. She was so pretty.

His smile dropped as he thought of how much time was left before he had to fly off again. He only had under three months with her. Time would fly so fast… too fast. And they’d have to repeat the painful cycle of a long-distance relationship again. The thought filled him with dread, and he shook his head gently, trying to clear that thought.

“Nick?” She was looking up at him, concern etched on her face. She studied Nick for a moment, then reached out and stroked his head in return.

“Nick, we’ve got a lot of time.” He stared at her. She did it again. How does she do it?

“I know, I know. But, it’s going to go so quickly. Summer’ll be over before we both know it, and I’ll-”

“You’re not looking into perspective, baby.”

“I am, Ellie. Three months here and nine long months there-” She put a finger to Nick’s lips and shook her head slightly.

“Nope, not like that. The next eight months will be your last in England. We’ve got all the time ’til forever after that, Nick.” She smiled sadly. “Eight months away from me compared to the rest of what comes after with me. You could wait those eight months out, couldn’t you?”

Nick looked at her, surprised. She had never said it that way. They had both agreed, long ago, that it’d be awhile before they talked about marriage, and kids, and being old seriously. She finally chose to bring it up. And it filled Nick with the warmest affection for this woman laying beside him. He smiled back and kissed her forehead.

“Yeah. I could wait, Ellie.” She smiled that beautiful smile, the one that struck him down in love for her all over again everytime.

“Good.” She snuggled back on his chest, sighing heavily.

“I love you, Nick.” At that moment Nick stopped fretting, and chose to fully utilize every day he had left with her before their summer ended. To appreciate every single thing about this holiday. Starting with this first night with her: his woman, his life, his future.

“I love you too.” With that, he drifted to sleep with one last thought flowing through his head, that he would forget the next morning, and probably for the rest of summer.

We’re a perfect fit after all, aren’t we?

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Thanks for reading. A friend of mine approached me, and asked me to write a post based on the title “The Perfect Fit”. There’re three of us in this gig, and we’re posting our respective posts consecutively. I decided to go with a love story, because I haven’t written fiction in awhile, and my right brain has lost its six-pack abs. Hope you enjoyed it!

food maker chapter 1: tom yum chicken with basil

Introducing another section of my blog: Food. In Food Maker I’ll introduce recipes, original, from my mom, or anything else that won’t get me sued. I’ll also have a separate section called Food Finder for restaurants, and food that I’m not personally cooking. To start off, I thought I’d write down the recipe for what I just had for dinner an hour ago: Tom yum chicken! A really simple dish with most of your nutrients inside when paired with rice. I add cucumber into mine to get some greens, and an egg for further texture, but those are optional. Here’s a picture to get some drool flowing.

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Serves 3 persons

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1tbsp of tom yum paste
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp of palm/granola oil
  • Roughly chopped basil
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Optionals:

  • A cucumber, sliced thinly
  • An egg or two

Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan large enough to fit the chicken, and put in a dash of oil.
  2. Stir-fry the onions until they’re soft. If you included cucumber, put the cucumber slices in now.
  3. Add in the chicken and tom yum paste (you may also marinate the chicken in the paste beforehand). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until cooked.
  4. Stir in the chopped basil a minute before you’re done. If you want, crack an egg in now and stir it in, too.
  5. Done.

Extra info:

  • I love chicken thighs, but other parts like chicken breasts work too (for clean eaters), as long as they’re cut into small pieces.
  • You can get tom yum paste from your local supermarkets in Malaysia, and Chinese supermarkets here in the UK.
  • Check out a simple, easy way to finely chop an onion, taught by Gordon Ramsay himself over here.
  • Palm and granola oils are neutral oils; they don’t have any flavour that’ll affect the taste of the dish, so I prefer these. Other oils like olive oil are fine.
  • Roll the basil leaves up like a cigar and chop through the leaves only once. You don’t want to bruise the leaves.
  • For people with wooden cooking tools, to check if the oil’s hot enough, just dip your wooden spatula into the oil. It should bubble gently. Otherwise, just add the onions right before the oil starts to smoke.

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And you’re done! It looks good, it can be presented to look like something that just came out of Amarin or Good Morning Bangkok. Hope this was informative enough for you guys. Do you want a Western or another Asian dish next? I might wanna do curry chicken, or a hokkien soy sauce pork belly dish, which are absolutely fabulous.

Thanks for reading, and have a good meal!

stylecheck chapter 1: layering

I had to keep up with my dare of posting weekly, so here I am! Following my desire to make this blog a helpful one in any way, I think I’ll start featuring recipes (Asian and Western), fashion tips and other stuff, maybe even workouts (although I don’t exactly have the results to lay claim to my advice).

Today I’ll talk about fashion; to be specific, extra layers over your shirt or tees.

Fall and spring are the best weathers to get all dressy: It’s not so cold that you’d have to really ball up into a xiaolongbao, but it’s chilly enough to layer up and get creative with your style. I’ll talk about three specific layers today.

1. Cable Knit Sweaters

These are fantastic modifications of your typical plain, chunky sweater. The detailing of the cables on the sweater give it a classier look, and they’re usually pretty thick, so they’ll keep you warm for sure. Cable knits are pretty versatile, too; you can wear them over a t-shirt, or add a smart casual feel to your look by putting it over your shirt. The usual rule is if the collar of the sweater’s rather wide, you don’t put it over a shirt, as it can look a little sloppy and weird. I’ll give you two examples of both looks:

Cable knit sweater from Zara

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Cable knit sweater from Jack Wills

2. Cardigans

Cardigans are basically lightweight sweaters with buttons, and (usually) a lower V-neck. These are, again, very flexible for dressing up and dressing down. Their thinner material gives you more space to add other layers without looking too balled up, too. There’re a couple ways to wear a cardigan. A shirt paired with a cardigan never goes wrong. For a casual look, drape a low-necked cardigan over a plain t-shirt or a polo. UNIQLO has a fantastic collection of cardigans for good prices, so there.

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Cardigan from UNIQLO

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Cardigan from Fred Perry

3. Sweatshirts

Sweatshirts dwell somewhere in between thin merino wool sweaters and knitted sweaters, like a cousin. Usually closely related to streetwear, sweatshirts are almost always casual, but there’re some plain, single-coloured sweatshirts that can pass off as smart-casual. It’s always useful for a trip to the gym, or to dance, or anything sporty. Also a great ensemble for streetwear if you pair it with a varsity jacket, some chinos or jeans and a pair of sneakers.

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Sweatshirt from Zara

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Sweatshirt from Boy London

So those’re my tips for secondary layers. Some honorary mentions include the thin, lightweight sweater and the hoodie, both in two extremes of smart and casual. I don’t particularly fancy those, so I left those out. If you have any questions about layering, let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading, and stay classy!

i’m baaaaack

After my 23918th hiatus, I’m back on blogging. This is partially (mostly) due to the fact that a friend called me out to make weekly updates on my blog, no matter what. Another reason will fit perfectly into what I’m about to blog about right now. You’ll see later.

I don’t have pseudo-Confucian words of wisdom to impart to you, so I’ll just update you on my life right now, the most self-loving way to update a blog. But just to help you get through it, I’ll explain my life in pictures instead. I’ll also give you some tips and fun stuff to check out like music, funny comics and shit.

So recently I’ve decided to pick up my life. Okay, that sounds extreme. I haven’t done a Wolf of Wall Street; I just didn’t feel I was doing any learning and skill-building besides my degree, which made me depressed. I faced a very common identity crisis in a sense; something that’s unfortunately common with us in our 20s. I just lived each day, going to classes, eat, sleep, rave, repeat. I felt like I was just stuck in education at this point in my life.

In rebellion, I decided to put things in motion.

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1. Books

I started reading. A lot. I finished up most of the books I had in my possession, and I went on an Amazon shopping spree to get all these pretty books with pretty covers. The Defining Decade as seen above is a great recommendation from another blogger called Jun Ian Chan. It covers what I mentioned above about the identity crisis in our 20s, and how to make full use of that decade in your life to the max. Totally recommend this book if you need a direction.

Coincidentally, I attended an economics summit at Warwick last week, the WES 2014. One of the speakers, a political coach named Sam Potolicchio told us to read 3 books a week: a biography, a novel, and a random topic you have no idea about. He makes all his clients do that, so there’s no conversation they’ll ever get lost in, cause they’ll know everything. It’s as if everything in my life’s been pointing me towards the direction I’ve been wanting to go to lately, it’s great.

So here’s a challenge to anyone reading this: Read at least 2 books a week for starters, then 3 if you can manage. Think of all that knowledge you’re gaining.

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2. Music

This, is a given. Singing and guitar have been with me for ages. I recently expanded my horizon to two other branches, though. One of them was songwriting. It’s been a great exercise to get my creative juices going, and I’ve got about 6 (nearly complete) songs. I’m seriously considering releasing an EP when I’m back in Malaysia. So that’s awesome.

I have a housemate called James, and he studies music. Really well-versed in piano and percussions. I randomly walked into his room one day and asked him to teach me to play piano, and he said “Okay” instantly. So I’ve been taking piano classes from him in our living room, and that’s been going good too. I know what chords are and how to play them, so it’s a matter of speed. Hopefully someday I’ll be solo-ing like Jamie Cullum and Brian Culbertson. If you like smooth jazz and funk, you really oughta check Brian out, btw, right here.

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3. Exercise

This, is the one thing I constantly procrastinate on the most, second to studying. Working out’s been an on and off experience for me since late 2012. But the positive attitude’s like a snowball effect; getting my ass off in other areas made it easier for me to get geared up to go to gym regularly. Hopefully, I’ll get that damn beach body in time for June. It’s been two months of serious bodybuilding so far, and I’ve gone up from 66 kilos to 68 kilos. Here’s to the next few months before summer!

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And I’ve been sleeping early, since I’ve got so much time, so that’s awesome. :D

Honorable Mentions:

Coffee! Been drinking a lot of coffee, and many different types of them. I just found out that besides a latté, a flat white, etc, the types of coffee branch even further out from there. There’re more than 5 different types of cappucinos!

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Btw, I Love Coffee’s a great place to learn about the stuff you’re drinking. Fun fact: The owner of this blog is the girlfriend of Matthew Inman, otherwise known as The Oatmeal. He draws comics, and he’s great.

Cooking! If you look at the picture of books I have, you’ll see Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking in the background. I’ve been really into it lately. Loads of recipes that look and taste good. I just love presenting a dish in a really attractive way and stuff. And I’ve been sating my homesickness with some traditional Malaysian dishes too. Yeah, I’m doing it purely to attract women.

Dancing! I recently got enlisted to choreograph and lead the LA dance team for our Manchester Malaysian Night, and it’s been a blast choreographing. I’ve never done it before, so it was a pretty fresh new experience. Again, just branching out my skills and knowledge. And I’ve got two projects with my good buddy Li Yon when I’m back in Malaysia that is guaranteed to BLOW YOUR MIND. So stay tuned for that, although you’ll probably forget all about this post by the time you see the videos in summer.

Blogging! Recall the “other reason” I mentioned above? This whole thing was the reason. Since I’m getting my life on the track, I might as well get active with blogging again. Once again, it’s as if Kenny’s message came as precisely the right time to push me to do other stuff, just like the bit about the books. So yes, I’ll try to update weekly. Maybe every Monday? We’ll see. I might run out of shit to write about.

So that’s been my life so far. Been trying to keep things positive. I think it’s been great. Only, and it does get a bit sappy from here, but it’s just been a little lonely. My regular readers are probably rolling their eyeballs. “This fuck’s been single since 2012, and he’s been complaining about loneliness since then on his 10 blogs.” Yeaaaah, I know, guys. Still doesn’t hide the fact it sucks a little. I really just wanna date a girl, and hopefully she’ll like me back, and we’ll do couple-y things together. That’d be so awesome. I have no idea when that’s going to happen, though. It’s been two years.

And with that, I’m done! This has been my favourite blog post so far. Really happy (except the last bit), and refreshing. Follow my blog, I’ll try my best to do those weekly updates. Stay tuned. And get moving.