Selamat Hari Raya!

Happy holidays to everyone!

This year’s Ramadan has been quite challenging. Waking up at 2.30 am for Sahur, abstain from food and water for about 18 hours and only and breaking our fast at close to 9 pm. But it has been doable so far as it hasn’t been too hot in Rome with the frequent showers.

As always the day before Eid, we paid our zakat. And on the day itself, there were three masses – 8.30 am, 9.30 am and 10.30 am. We aimed to for the middle one, and thus left the house at 8.30 am. One hour was a good leeway to reach the place and it was such a pretty day, with big fluffy clouds and a clear blue sky.

Unfortunately, being a Monday, there was such a bad traffic going on that we reached there at 10.15 am instead! At least we managed to arrive for the last mass and we sauntered casually inside.

It was extremely crowded and chaotic in the mosque with children screaming and running around. This is something that I’m not fond of and I can only hope that it’ll improve the next year. Nevertheless, it was nice to see so many people coming together to celebrate and there was an air of festivity here – the smell of freshly made food and the excited chatter and the flurry of people doing selfies.
There was even refreshments given out that day, which was a pleasant surprise

When we reached back home, I was looking at all the posts on Facebook and saw so many lovely pictures of my relatives celebrating Raya with their families. makes me a little pensive that I’m not able to join them. Unlike in Singapore, when there will be cheerful music and people going around in colourful matching outfits and all the cheer, it’s very subdued here.

With it being Summer, my extended family, and many of my friends are already on vacation. So there really isn’t any point on doing a gathering when everyone’s away.

Ayam masak merah

Nevertheless, I’m craving for some Ayam Masak Merah as that’s what I’d always eat during Raya morning, and for me it triggers some nostalgia so and I think I’ll make them this Friday when we invite some friends over for dinner.

I’d have to tone the chilli way down though! :-)

Why are you wearing flip flops?

I was near the metro station and I saw a girl wearing a spaghetti top, short shorts and rubber flip flops. The first thing that came to mind was, “She’s definitely a tourist“, as you’ll never catch an Italian wearing that.

In the land of Prada, Valentino and Dolce & Gabanna, Italians are known take pride in how they look as demonstrated by the Geert Hofstede analysis comparison. And so far in my observation, flip flops are something that are worn only at the swimming pool or the beach. No clothes no service
Spotted near Ostia Beach

So when Jules was here, I told her confidently that you’d never catch an Italian (or at least a Roman) wearing flip flops in their regular, everyday outfit as it looked quite sloppy. “In fact, lets see if we can catch 10 Italians wearing them and prove my hypothesis wrong“, I added.

The first few days passed by uneventfully.

Imagine my horror when I was getting some pizza al taglio and saw for the first time a man wearing rubber flip flops. Not sandals but rubber flip flops – the type you could get for less than 5 euro. I was pretty sure that he was Italian due how he spoke. My mouth agog and I was flummoxed. But perhaps, it’s just an anomaly, something out of the blue. Pizza al taglio di Fattori Eligio

And then next days I began to spot at least one man wearing flip flops a day  and not being anywhere near a swimming pool nor the beach, and I think to myself, “What on earth is going on?

I guess my hypothesis is invalid now.


So 150 frogs and 20 smurfs fought over the weekend …

It has been about 4 months that I’ve been playing ingress. At the beginning, I thought that I’d never progress to more than level 2 and so I’m kind of surprised that I managed to reach level 9 somehow.

Anyhow, last weekend, I participated in my first live combat with a huge influx of Enlightened players from all around Europe. I suppose that the event was meant to be an ambush but we got a trickling of an idea when there were an increase of attacks in our neighbourhood by unfamiliar names. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

The other hint that something was up was when the places that we usually go to, to farm for resources gets attacked one by one - a countermeasure to make it difficult for us to fight back.

With this in mind, Cart and I decided to farm as much as possible in the places that we can think of which are not yet attacked and stocked up as much as possible and waited in anticipation.

We managed to meet other resistance members. There were about 20 of us participating as there were a number on vacation. From what I heard, there were more than 150 members from the Enlightened team  all across Europe. Their mission was said to capture and create 1000 Level 8 portals. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

20 versus more than 150? Yikes.

We quickly got together and divided ourselves into groups to do a clean sweep in different areas. Saturday, we were deployed to Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Mazzini, while on Sunday we went to San Giovanni in Laterano.

It was extremely crowded and there were so many interesting things to be seen, but we had a bigger task at hand. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

How we communicated with the rest of the team was quite amusing to be honest. Cart was going around with a walkie-talkie app to coordinate with other players and every few seconds, his device would buzz loudly and it would it make it seem as if we were policemen. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

I have to say, that I’ve never seen so many L8 portals from the opposing team in one place, and it was overwhelming to see a sea of green, but good thing is, being in a team made it much more bearable and we cleared our area one at a time. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

It was a tough battle  :

  1. Physically challenging as we had to walk a lot under the hot summer day, to cover our designated area, and it was especially tough for Cart and me as we were both fasting.
  2. Mentally challenging as I kept having technical maladies such as my battery draining too fast or unstable GPS, making me not able to play effectively.

And surprisingly, I saw my resources starting to trickle. From about 600 bombs, I was left with only about 100 at the end of the day. On a normal day, I’d have to chase after people to take them so that I could have more space in my inventory.

Nevertheless, with our collective efforts, it feels like such an achievement when we managed to stop the Enlightened from reaching their one thousand goal. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

During the two day fight, I’m sad that my “portal helds” were destroyed. In Ingress, you could get medals depending on how long you keep it alive. I managed to reach 40 days for the ones in Rome and it didn’t increase after that. But the thing that made me feel better is that there are other resistance players who sacrificed their “helds” so that they could create this huge field that lasted for over an hour. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

If they willingly gave their portals up all in the name of creating this field, I shouldn’t feel too bad about mine.

Overall, I thought that it was a good game from both teams and in the end, from what I see, it was really heartening to see players coming together all in the spirit of the game –  readily helping out to improve a portal, so that we could farm, some sharing their resources such as bombs and power cubes to others, some lending out their battery packs and so on. Ingress Rome #caputmundi

Also, it was really motivating to see cheers from all over the world from fellow members. It probably sounds cheesy, but that did give us more spirit and drive. :-) Ingress Rome #caputmundi Ingress Rome #caputmundi Ingress Rome #caputmundi

All in all, I had a really good weekend. But lets not do this again too soon, I think we all need some well deserved rest for now. :-)

Sidenote : Look at how sunburnt Cart looks like after being out for two days! Ingress Rome #caputmundi

Moral of the story. Wear sunscreen.

How to make Roman styled Artichokes

Artichokes are called Carciofi in Italian and in Rome, there is a special variety called Carciofi Romaneschi. It’s unique compared to regular artichokes as they are round. Carciofi romaneschi

Artichoke is a seasonal food best eaten during Spring, but I clean forgot that I had these pictures in the SD card after the drama with my camera. But as a side-note, there is an annual artichoke festival that I think would be an interesting event to go to, if you have the chance to visit Italy in April.

One of the things that you could do with Carciofi Romanesco is to make Carciofi alla Romana – Roman styled Artichokes.

Ingredients :

  • Roman Artichokes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Mentuccia
  • Lemon Carciofi alla Romana

Cut a lemon into two and rub it on each exposed part of the artichoke while cleaning it to prevent oxidization.

And you clean the artichokes by peeling away the woody, outer part of the stalk and a few layer of the petals. Not forgetting to carve away any thorny bits inside. Carciofi alla Romana

Next peel and slice the garlic cloves. There should be enough to go round for each artichoke to have half a clove. Carciofi alla Romana

Mentuccia is a member of the mint family, but it has a stronger, more distinct scent and is used in many Italian dishes. Chop some. But if they are not readily available where you are, you could use regular mint. Carciofi alla Romana

Stuff each artichoke with the chopped mentuccia, the sliced garlic clove and some salt. Carciofi alla Romana

In a pot that is snug enough to allow the artichokes stand, put some extra virgin olive oil, and carefully place them facing down. Carciofi alla Romana

Then leave them to fry till the colour turns more amber-ish. Carciofi alla Romana

At this point, add some water, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about an hour. Carciofi alla Romana

After which you’ll have a lovely rustic aroma as you lift the lid off and you’ll have a lovely dish of Carciofi alla Romana. Carciofi alla Romana

You cut the artichoke into two. It is easily sliced, but still firm. The taste is distinctly rich and rustic due to the mentuccia and yet delicately creamy due to the artichoke. It’s delicious and absolutely hearty.

It’s interesting at how so few ingredients can make such a satisfying dish.

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Fasting month is here again

It’s now almost a fortnight since Ramadan started. It has been quite challenging as it’s about 18 hours abstaining from any consumption of food and water. Coupled with the fact that it’s currently summer and the temperature is rather balmy, making me feel dehydrated and fatigued if I’m out for too much. sunrise

But contrary to what I anticipated, it’s actually doable. It’s not easy forcing myself to get up at 2.30 am for sahur and then breaking the fast at around 8.50 pm, but I’m quite surprised that I could actually get through fasting all through these hours.

I don’t want to overly exert myself which was why I haven’t been exercising. Although I kind of miss going for my jogs. Which is surprising as the truth is, I hate exercising, but I do love the adrenaline rush when I am done. @ CSC Run by the bay, Singapore

Prior to this, I managed to complete Jillian Michaels 30 day shred and I really like how my body looked like. I’m lighter compared to the first time I did it, so my body looked more defined. Unfortunately, these days I’m slowly becoming soft again. But I’m keen to continue doing circuit training again after this.

I should try to do more low impact workouts to retain my muscle mass like going for my daily walks like how I did last year. It’s just that without participating for a race, there isn’t that much motivation. Yeah, I’m like that. Don’t judge me.

So at the moment, I’m content to just stay at home and watch Breaking Bad. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s awesome! I got hooked from the pilot episode on the get go! breaking bad

I don’t want to give any spoilers but in a nutshell, it’s about a chemistry teacher who isn’t doing well financially so he starts using his skills to make quality meth.  It’s a gripping show and I’ve just completed season 1 yesterday and I can’t wait to finish the rest of the seasons. Heh heh heh.

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy