Marina the camera destroyer

As much as I find myself using my android phone a lot for taking photos, many a times, I still prefer to use my trusty point-and-shoot camera.

I think it’s still the more superior choice when taking photos – it loads up faster, the picture quality is better, and I could just leave it for weeks and the battery would still be full.

rinaz.net Canon Ixus 200 IS

When I first got my little blue camera, I was very happy with it. It was sleek, had interesting functions and using it, I started and learnt how to create HD video blogs. And I always put it in my bag, ready for a photo opportunity.

It’s just that … I’m so clumsy!

My trusty camera has probably been mistreated more than by a regular person. It’s been dropped countless of times, one of the worst fall it had was while we were in Viterbo and I accidentally dropped it on the cobblestones as I was trying to reply to my ringing mobile phone.

rinaz.net Canon Ixus 200 IS Camera

You can imagine how bad I felt as it dropped on the surface. It was badly scratched, and the battery cover didn’t close properly but thankfully, the LCD screen was whole and the camera still worked fine.

I promised myself to be more careful next time.

But recently I was horrified to find out that the shutter won’t open and close properly since a few days ago. Like something was stuck inside. Inspecting it, I realised that it smells of strawberries.

Even though I did ate and take a picture of a strawberry ice cream, I’m usually very careful when doing food photography. I don’t remember dripping anything on the camera. It doesn’t make  scientific sense. Ice cream drips down! And my camera was always pointing up.

rinaz.net Scratched Canon Ixus 200 IS Camera

This is a Magnum Strawberry Ice-cream covered with White Chocolate by the way. Was it worth killing my camera for this shot? I don’t know -_-

It was till when I noticed my camera slip cover. It had dried strawberry ice cream inside it. I must have had dripped ice cream in it some how.

And now all my shots look like me waking up at 5 am.

rinaz.net Damaged Canon Ixus 200 IS Camera

Sigh.

I feel like such a bad owner. It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose and I know it’s not a living thing, but my heart hurts each time it gets damaged. And as a blogger, I should be taking better care of my camera. But for something that has lasted for about 4 years, it’s not that bad right?

At this point of time, I’m eyeing on this. It’s just that … I don’t want to break another camera!

Rinaz Cry

How to grow beansprouts

Sometime back I got a really thoughtful package from Kynne. Inside the box was a number of Asian food. One of the things inside was a pack of peanut sauce. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, until I thought of making gado-gado.

rinaz.net

The picture probably doesn’t look very appetizing. But believe me, it’s really tasty.

Gado-gado is an Indonesian dish mainly made of vegetables mixed with the peanut sauce. It’s quite easy to get the ingredients here such as eggs, cucumber and cabbage. Even Tempeh and Kangkung are easy to find.

But interestingly one of the ingredients, the bean sprouts, which is really cheap in Asia, can be quite expensive here. The only shop where I found it for sale costs about 3.50 euros for a small box. It may be organic and all, but I thought it was just too much.

So in the end, I thought that it would be much more satisfying to grow it myself. After searching a few supermarkets, we found a pack of “Fagioli Azuki” beans from Panorama and I got ready to grow it.

rinaz.net

It feels like I was doing a Primary 3 science experiment all over again and it’s really easy to do.

  1. Take a plastic container and line it with a wet tissue paper
  2. Sprinkle the seeds inside and leave it in a warm place
  3. In a few days the sprouts will be ready .

rinaz.net

It was quite therapeutic to see the sprouts grow bit by bit each day. As soon as the leaves come out it was ready for harvest. So it’s time to pull them out for a rinse and cleaning.

rinaz.net

And as sit down and clip the roots away, the familiar scent and rote reminds me a bit of how my sister, my mum and I would be doing the same thing together back in Singapore before we start cooking for a meal.

rinaz.net

There was something comforting in the thought.

The voice of Italy – A different kind of singing competition

By now, I think you’ve already heard of the singing nun :

I find it extremely amusing seeing the faces of the four judges as they turn to see her, looking completely gobsmacked. By the way, this video has been viewed 31 million times in a span of just 7 days!

This clip was taken from the program, The Voice of Italy. And while I think that Italian TV is quite saturated with singing competitions, there is a little twist that makes the voice of Italy an interesting show.

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

The big difference between this show and regular singing competitions is that the four judges have their seats turned away from their stage. The seats are big, so they are not able to see the contestants and can only judge by what they hear.

The contestant will sing and while they are singing, the judges decide if they like what they hear. If one judge turns the contestant will automatically be mentored by that judge.

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

But if two or more turn around, the contestant has the power to choose the judge they want to be mentored by.

To me this format is quite refreshing as the focus would be completely on the voice of the singer – it wouldn’t matter how they look or dress as long as they sound good.

The voice of Italy is presided by four coaches, each of them an icon in their own right :

J-ax

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

J-ax is a rapper and rock singer from Milan. He started as a a rap group in 1990 and went solo 2005 on wards. One of his famous song is Piccoli per sempre.

Noemi

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

Noemi is probably most recognized as a former contestant of X Factor Italia. The interesting thing is that she didn’t emerge as the winner, not even the runner up,  nevertheless she turned out to be the most successful among all of the contestants of that season.

At this point of writing, I hear her song, Bagnati del Sole a lot on the radio.

Rafaella Carra

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

Wow, she was probably one of Lady Gaga’s inspiration. Rafaella Carra’ was known as a TV host about a show that reunites families around the world live.

I think she’s more well known as a singer and a dancer. Always dressed flamboyantly in shiny outfits when performing, in the 1970s she came out with the songs Tuca Tuca,  a far l’amore comincia tu, as well as Tanti Auguri.

The hair swish thing that she does while dancing is her trademark and you’ll see her doing that often in her performance.

Piero Pelu`

rinaz.net The Voice of Italy

Piero Pelu` started as a rock singer from  the band Litfiba in early 1980. He produced a solo album in 2000. I’m not familliar with his songs, but I really love the one where he made a duet with Anggun.

The song is gorgeous and the two powerful voices blend so well together.

So far in the program, the auditions are over and the judges will now start to be coach the singers. Would be interesting to see how this develops so I guess I’ll try to remember to tune in the telly next Wednesday.

Is it a big deal to bandit a race?

Not too long ago there was a runner who participated in a marathon. To pass time, she decided to take selfies to keep herself motivated. Quite harmless fun.

Personally I’ve never thought of doing that as when I’m running, the only thing I’m focused on would be to finish the distance in one piece. Besides, I don’t look very photogenic when I’m all huffing and perspiring. Unlike this guy :

rinaz.net

Nevertheless, the post got so popular, it went viral. Which was probably the inspiration for another blogger to do the same thing.

The thing was, she didn’t pay for the registration and crashed in the event. It was made worse when she was disrespectful to the other athletes and making inappropriate jokes. It was also reported that she took the refreshments during the event and a medal at the end.

When I first read about this, I was quite put off. And as expected, a lot of people were not happy about her behaviour. Going through the comments, the crux of it was because of her not paying for the event. Part of the costs to go for safety, security, refreshments and whatnots.

And that’s how I learnt about the term, “race bandits” – people who crash in running events without paying for them.

rinaz.net

A non relevant picture

I don’t condone her behaviour. And I was bothered by how rude she was to other people and she took food and a medal when she didn’t pay for it. But the thing is, it doesn’t really bother me that she crashed in the event.

Because possibly a number of people have bandit-ed a race at least once in their lives be it intentional or not.

While I haven’t done such a thing personally, I have thought about doing it. As I live in an urban area, it’s not such a big deal for 10 km runs and under. However while I was training for the marathon, going for distances 20 km and over, it can get quite challenging to plan for a suitable route – no running children, no traffic lights, no cracked concrete side-walks etc.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Training

I was stressing so much about my 32 km path that Cart said that I could crash in the Roma Ostia Half Marathon that coincided that day. Even a mutual friend who was doing the half marathon suggested the same. At first I thought that they were joking, also it feels shameless to be doing something that I didn’t pay for. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was and the more willing I was to give it a go.

It’s not an issue about not being able to afford paying for the event. And I am not convinced that bandit-ing is being disrespectful to people who has taken the time to train and travel to the race.

For the Maratona di Roma event itself which I participated in, there were a total registration of 19 thousand. However on the actual day, only around 15 thousand turned up for the actual event. Around 20% of the registrations unaccounted for. Which probably means that the organizing would be 120% ready right?

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

It’s just that the final 10 km while I was doing the race, there was a crowd of workers hovering around the refreshment tables, the porta-potties that I saw were completely stuffed. I was surprised to see that there were people already disassembling the barricades and at the end of the race, I didn’t get a thermal cover and there were no massage kiosks to be seen. Something I was really looking forward to with my sore and aching feet.

I know that I’m one of the last few runners but it seems quite disrespectful.

But please don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining and overall, I did have a good experience. But my point is, regardless if a person have paid or not for an event, stuff like this happens. Sometimes kiosks run out of food. Sometimes there isn’t enough stuff to be given out at the end of the race. I don’t think any organization would be 100% smooth, 100% of the time.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km

Which is why I don’t see the big deal about bandit-ing. Typically around 10 – 20% of the registrars don’t show up for an event anyway, so I don’t see how it’s taking away from another person. I mean it’s already there as a public commodity – the path and the barrier. Might as well take advantage of it.

Of course, if it were me, what I would do instead is to :

  • Go right back at the end of the line and start probably 30 minutes after the last person has passed.
  • Respect registered athletes
  • Never take any of the refreshment.
  • Obviously not take a medal
  • Not turn this into a regular basis.
  • Don’t do it unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be discreet about it.

In the end, I didn’t bandit the half marathon due to the weather forecast. But if you think race bandits are bad, I think jeopardizing a race like this is even worse :

A slice of Naples in Rossopomodoro

As much as I adore Roman style pizza, there is a place in Rome that I like going to when I have a hankering for Napoli style pizza.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

Some years back, Cart and I visited Naples and we managed to eat from a recommended pizzeria. I find Napoli a very charming place, and as you know, Naples is where pizza was invented and there, I had a very memorable and delicious dinner.

Unlike the Roman styled pizza which is characterised by its thin and crispy crust, the Naples styled pizza has a soft, thick crust at the border but gets thinner towards the middle. It’s been said that a good pizza Napoletana could be folded in four.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

It takes about two hours by train to get to Naples from Rome. But for any reason that you can’t manage to get there, there is a place in Rome that serves pretty good Napoli styled pizza, called Rossopomodoro.

There are many Rossopomodoro branches all over Italy. A quick search online, I’m quite surprised that it has different branches in other parts of the world.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

The one that we normally go to is the one in Euroma2, a commercial centre that’s not far away from where we live.

While it can get quite crowded during high traffic hours during lunch and dinner, it’s all worth waiting for once you get a table, and bask in the atmosphere.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

You could see families, group of friends, businessmen, basically people from all sorts of life here, giving it a cozy vibe.

On your table, there will be a piece of paper printed with different Italian recipes at the back. You could bring it home, and it comes  pre-punched for easy filing.

And when going through the menu, it’s nice to see sprinkles of Napoli dialects for some of the names of the food.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

Rossopomodoro serves a variety of foods like pasta and grilled meats, but I feel that their pizza is the highlight of the show.

I noticed that the menu changes seasonally, which I appreciate as there are so many wonderful seasonal ingredients. Each pizza is cooked in a wood oven, and comes out fluffy and perfectly cooked.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

Each bite is such as joy as the dough is soft and chewy, the toppings taste delicate and the ingredients work well together, never overwhelming the other.

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

Here are some of the pizze that we had. I don’t quite remember the names but I’d normally ask for a tomato based pizza with mozzarella, while Cart loves pizze with strong cheeses or tartufo. I think it’s quite easy to tell who had what in these pictures :-)

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

rinaz.net Rossopomodoro

At about 8 euro a pizza here, Cart and I normally spend about 25 euro in total when dining here. Personally I think it’s always a treat to be here and it’s a pretty close to the real deal to the pizza in Naples.

Rossopomodoro
83, Viale Dell’Oceano Pacifico - 00144 Roma 

For fun, I’m going to add this video of a guy who’s crazy about pizza boxes. According to him, this box from Rossopomodoro is the best that he’s come across. Skip to 2.16 onwards.

 

Anyone play ingress?

Cart introduced me to Ingress some weeks back.

Ingress is a multiplayer game for android devices. In this game, you are supposed choose to fight for the enlightened (green team) or the resistance (blue team) and basically the aim of the game is to establish different portals.

rinaz.net ingress

Portals are usually public landmarks, like sculptures or murals. We get points by hacking, deploying or recharging resonators and linking portals. These actions takes an amount of energy, but you can refill them easily by passing by areas with the tiny floaty lights as seen below.

rinaz.net ingress

So many enemy portals to hack!

When Cart told me about the game, I thought that it was a great way for us to spend time being more active together and perhaps indirectly, start to be fitter like how a friend did after playing this game for several months.

We chose to be part of the resistance team but the first time when we started the game, it was quite confusing for me though. The learning curve is high as the interface is overwhelming with information and it takes a while for my GPS to stabilize and be in range for the portals.

rinaz.net ingress

Eventually it got easier to understand, the more I played it. And it got quite exciting as Cart and I work together and try to claim and fight enemy portals. We’d go exploring different places in our neighbourhood just to search for these portals. It’s real time, so whatever we do gets updated and seen immediately on each other’s devices.

rinaz.net ingress

Some of the weapons I got by hacking

What I liked about the game is that it makes you more aware of your surroundings as you try to spot the portals. For example, despite living in my neighbourhood for a while, there is a statue near my house that I probably wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for Ingress.

rinaz.net ingress

And there are a lot more portals to be found the more popular the place is. So tourist destinations like Piazza del Popolo, or the Colosseo or Piazza Navona would be filled with them so it’s easier to level up there.

The only thing I don’t like about the game is that it’s a huge battery sucker. I’d play the game for a few minutes and my battery would go down to almost half. On top of that, my phone lags a lot and it takes time for it to see me as being in range even though I’m right there! It’s extremely off-putting so I’m not so active in this game.

Cart on the other hand absolutely adores this game and plays whenever he gets the chance. He’s now almost at level 5 and I’m still stuck at level 2. I doubt I’d ever catch up to him.

rinaz.net ingress

Unfortunately, whatever motivation I got about Cart being more active is diminished when I found out that he’s been hacking in portals while driving his car! I don’t know about you, but I feel like that’s cheating.

Use a bicycle at the very least -_-”

Here is a video for a more in depth information about the game :

maratona-3

I am now a marathoner

Hi everyone!

After 16 weeks of training, I finally did it! I completed my first full marathon yesterday and it still feels so unreal to me that I actually did 42 km at the 20th edition of the Maratona Di Roma.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

The entire week leading to it, I was carbo-loading with food like pasta, risotto, pizza and sushi. I had such a ravenous appetite that even Cart was worried that I was eating too much. On a normal day, I think it would be unhealthy, but after doing my 32 km training, I understand that my body needs plenty of fuel for long distance running.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

(Delicious pizza with tuna, onions and balsamic vinegar)

On Sunday morning, I woke up at 5 am feeling butterflies in my tummy. Despite all my trainings, I didn’t feel prepared. I didn’t feel the same excitement I felt when I did the half marathon last year, and the thought of doing 42 km was so daunting to the point that I was actually thinking of not going.

But I tried to quell all those negative thoughts by doing my pre-long run routine.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

(I look like I’m going camping)

I was contemplating on bringing my water bottle, but then I realised that it would be an additional weight as the organizers will be providing us with water, energy drinks and solid food. Moreover there are an abundance of water fountains all over Rome.

Cart drove me to the nearest metro station and while waiting for the subway to arrive, I did some dynamic stretching. When I finally got on a coach, there were already a lot of people inside wearing red for the 5 km fun run and with all the excitement, I actually started to feel quite charged.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

I dropped off at the Circo Massimo stop where I saw a number of athletes walking towards the Arco di Costantino. It was around 8 am, and the air was extremely crowded and chaotic with over 14 thousand other athletes. I had a hard time trying to find the lorry to deposit my bag and in the end, I found that it was the last one, a distance away. I wished there were more signs so that I could avoid the human crush.

By the time I deposited my bag, the clouds were starting to get dark. The weather forecast said that it would rain the entire day but I was in denial, hoping for a sunny day. Unfortunately, while we were queuing up at the corral, it started to rain quite hard. While normally the rain would be a demoralizing experience, this time round, it wasn’t so bad with all the other people around me giving each other motivation. Moreover I’ve been in worse conditions during my training.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

The race was supposed to start at 8.50 am but due to the amount of participants, we were only able to inch forward bit by bit. I only managed to step on the start line around 10 minutes later. But once I got to that point, things got real for me. That I am actually going to run a marathon!

We started running towards Via dei Fori Imperiali and I saw a lot of people going really fast. I wasn’t disheartened and kept my pace slow and steady so that I didn’t exhaust myself, but mostly not to risk injuring myself. That’s the hazard of running too fast – In fact, I saw a number of athletes limping quite early on – at less than 10 km in.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

As we went though the different locations and monuments in Rome, I felt a sense of happiness going through the places that I was familiar with. With the roads barricaded for us, jogging through these area on foot gives me a new visual perspective on my adopted home. And there were even some paths that I haven’t discovered before.

At every corner, there were so many supporters clapping and cheering for us, giving us motivation which was really nice. It was heartening to see so many.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

As much as I enjoyed the sights, after a while everything seemed like a blur to me and it was difficult for me to remember what I passed by. Mostly it was because I was more actively looking for the distance indicator banner, telling you how much you’ve run. I felt really good and felt so motivated each time I went past each mark and I mentally high five’ed myself at each one.

  • 10 km done,  you can do another 10!
  • 20 km done, lets do another 10!
  • 30 km done, don’t give up now. You can do it!

When I reached towards the 32 km mark, it was the start of  my longest distance to date. I anticipated the same feeling as I did when I did 32 km, but interestingly I didn’t feel overly tired because we were given plentiful of fresh fruits and energy drinks along the way. I munched on a slice of apple or banana and sipped on some water, and did a quick stretch at each stop. It was enough fuel to top my glycogen reserves,  so I didn’t feel hungry and I’m amazed that I didn’t hit the wall this time.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

While my energy level was great, my feet were pulsating and it got more challenging to run with my minimalist shoes on the cobblestones when we reached the city centre. I had to tread carefully to ensure that I didn’t trip. I doubt that Abebe Bikila himself would appreciate running on these if he was still alive.

After jogging for about 4 hours or so, I felt the need to pee but opening a portable latrine door near the Auditorium refreshment stop, I saw something so nasty that I was immediately turned off.

By the time I reached 33 km, my Garmin was already starting to run out of juice, so I couldn’t tell how my pacing was and just went as best as I could.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

Eventually I reached the 40 km mark near Piazza di Spagna and I felt so relieved that I gave out a whoop. Just 2 more kilometres to go! And as I returned back to Via dei Fori Imperiali,  there were so many people clapping and cheering. The end is near! I saw the finishing gate and spotted out a line of Roman Gladiators towards it.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

It was such a rush of emotion for me when I went past the line. I raised my arms, so grateful that it was over, feeling a sense of personal achievement that I’ve overcome this fear.  It wasn’t an easy run, but I managed to do it!

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

I am now a legit marathoner :-)

My timings may not be anything to shout about. 10.35 min/km for the first 5 km? Yikes. I’m probably one of the last few to complete the race. Nevertheless, I’m quite happy that I managed to stay on a constant speed throughout the marathon. Plus I was slightly faster than my expected time of 6 hrs 59 minutes and 59 seconds :P

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

It was only when I went past the stop point, stopped jogging and started to slow down was when I felt my legs and feet pulsating badly. Every step felt like I had weights on my  legs and my feet felt as if they were on fire. It was so painful and the ironic part was, that the bag deposit lorry was located really far away. I don’t think even the little mermaid felt like I felt when she first got her legs.

As festive as the air was all around me, by this time, I really wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures. All I wanted to do was to get back home, shower, rest and be in clean, warm clothes.

I could only manage to walk slowly as each step was excruciating. Luckily Cart was waiting for me at the Constantine Arch ready to drive me home. I was close to tears, being so profoundly grateful as I just couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk all the way to the metro, with the crowd of people. I sat in the car and pulled off my wet socks and shoes and gave a quick massage. My feet were all wrinkled from all the rain.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

I’ve heard horror stories about long distance running and I’m grateful that I didn’t get black toenails, had very minimal chafing and got just a little bit of sunburn on my neck due to the rain washing away my sunblock.

When we reached home and when I tried to leave the car, my back ached and I had to take a full minute just to stand straight. I imagine that this is probably how I’ll be walking like when I turn 80 years old. I did my best to do my after run stretches, had a quick shower and then concussed on the sofa. Interestingly, I didn’t feel that hungry. Probably due from all the food I consumed during the run.

In the evening, my legs were pulsating very badly. I think this was probably due to my adrenaline levels crashing down. No matter how much I changed position to make myself comfortable, I was in so much pain that I was in tears. Foam rolling, muscle cream and ibuprofen helped, but just a little bit.

rinazcry

Thankfully, I managed to sleep soundly and I’m feeling a lot better now. Although I think that my immune system is not great at the moment, so I’m going to take it easy for the next few days to avoid catching a fever.

Now that the marathon is over, my routine is probably going to be quite different now that my 16 weeks are done. Looking back though the 4 months, all the training, the fear, the sweat and tears, it was all worth  it and the marathon was a satisfying conclusion.

I think that I could probably do better, but at this point of time, I don’t think I want to do another marathon any time soon. At the same time though, it would be a waste to lose this level of fitness that I’ve already achieved so far.

rinaz.net #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

To end this post, I would like to give thanks to everyone who has ever given me love, support and advice, to those who liked my #rinazdoes42km posts and for all who were with me in my marathon journey these past 4 months :-)

#rinazdoes42km? #rinazDID42km!

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy