Much ado about Watermelons

Cocomero (pronounced as ko-ko-mehro) or watermelons are a favourite summer fruit.

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Juicy, sweet and refreshing, it’s the perfect fruit when you want to cool down in the hot summer days. Plus, it’s quite cheap to get them – costing about 30 cents a kilo, you could easily get a large, whole one in the market for less than two euros.

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Something interesting that I’ve noticed is how watermelons are served in Rome. In the eateries here, people eat them with a fork and knife. It’s something usual to me personally as it seems quite refined for such a humble fruit.

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You could also get cocomero by the slices at kioks by the roadside. There are lots of kiosks like these in Rome and this one where we visited, is somewhere in Via Aurelia.

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Getting one costs more compared to if you get a whole one at the market. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience for me, eating a huge slice of watermelon next to the roadside.

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You pick the watermelon slice that you want, take a knife from the small bucket and cut the flesh and enjoy the cool, sweet freshness.

I thought that the whole situation reminiscent of the roadside stalls in Asia – you could even sit at the plastic tables while you enjoy your fruit.

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Nevertheless, the idea of paying to cut your own melons is quite bizarre. Perhaps it’s just me? In Singapore, hawkers always cut watermelon slices right in front of you when they are sold.

 

Quick thoughts on the LG Nexus 5

As much as I love my Galaxy Nexus, it was starting to get obsolete. Even with it being rooted, it was starting to take such a long time to start programs and even worse, gets unstable with more than 3 apps open.

It became so cumbersome playing games like ingress on it, and I guess that I’ve been complaining so much about my phone being slow that Cart got me this for my birthday. I really love my new toy!

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

I’ve enjoyed the Nexus experience tremendously since I use a lot of Google applications and was really happy to be upgraded to a Nexus 5.

We happened to also be ordering a pair of USB cables so when the delivery guy arrived to pass me the box, I was surprised to see the phone instead of the cables when I opened the box as it was deceptively small and very light.

This was probably my first LG phone and the Nexus 5 comes in 3 colours - black, white and red. I asked for the red one as it’s an usual colour in a sea of black mobile phones. Seeing it in real life, the red isn’t a true red though, more like orange-red. Nevertheless, I absolutely love it, the phone is just so sexy.

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

(The LG Nexus 5 next to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus)

Everything about the phone is just so seductive – the colour, the shape, the sleek look. Just touching the matte back is just so inviting. Suffice to say, I think this is the most attractive smartphone that I’ve ever owned.

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

First I had to get my SIM card cut as it needed a Micro-SIM, and then get it updated to the latest android version which is Kitkat 4.4.4 at this point of writing.

The first time I first used it, I was ridiculously emotional at how speedy it was. With a 2 GB ram, opening apps was so fast that I can’t imagine how I managed to survive with my old phone. I almost cried happy tears in the mall when I managed to get memory intensive apps like Ingress started in just a few seconds instead of minutes.

Everything feels so smooth and basically just works. In the several weeks that I’ve been using it, I’ve never had any issues. Even though there is the extremely rare chance when the phone decides to restart by itself, at least it doesn’t take a lifetime to start again.

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

There are a few changes that I see. For example, SMS messages are now combined with hangouts which is great as every messages are in one place.

And now all pictures taken is now updated to “Photos” – I quite like the auto-backup which saves all your images to your google+ account. It’s a peace of mind in case something happens to the phone or makes a smooth transition when changing phones.

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

I really like the camera. There are different interesting functions like Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur and HDR+. Considering that the camera is just 8 MP, the quality of the images are quite impressive. Here are some of the snapshots that I took recently, not forgetting the ones I took in Orvieto.

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

Admittedly, these pictures are slightly enhanced using Snapseed. Nevertheless, you’d need to have a good picture to be edited into an even better picture. The roasted seafood picture especially, looked as if it could have been snapped using a DSLR :-)

Another awesome function is “Ok Google” which runs really smoothly on the phone. But the part which I like a lot about Google Now  is the ‘Location’. Using this function makes you keep track of your friends all the time. I like this function a lot as I’d always know where Cart is so I don’t worry about where he could be.

I probably might talk more about this function in the future about how this affects relationships :P

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

And I finally am able to do … emoticons! Probably something quite frivolous, but I’ve been waiting for this for the longest time. I can’t believe that this couldn’t be done in earlier phones. I didn’t want to install additional apps like Swiftkey which at 26 MB seems like such a bloatware.

rinaz.net LG Nexus 5

To end this post, I just have to say that I really love my new phone. The irony is, I don’t use it much for talking and instead use it more for social media, ingressing and taking photos. I don’t even carry my point and shoot camera with me much any more.

Thank you so much Cartcart :-)

Beautiful Orvieto

Cart and I were with a group of friends in Orvieto during the weekend.

rinaz.net Orvieto

rinaz.net Orvieto

rinaz.net Orvieto

rinaz.net Orvieto

This place is like a dream, the view from up was so breathtakingly beautiful with rolling hills and teeny tiny houses from far away.

rinaz.net Orvieto

rinaz.net Orvieto

The buildings look so charming and every where you go here is a picture perfect view.

rinaz.net Orvieto

rinaz.net Orvieto

In the heart of the town, there is a church here which reminds me a lot like the one in Firenze, mostly because of its black and white stripes.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to spend too much time here as we had to rush off to other places, but I’d love to come back here again and explore the area in a calmer manner :-)

P.S. All the pictures in this post were snapped using my mobile phone by the way. Either my pns camera is getting obsolete or phones are getting so much better!

Buon Ferragosto!

Today, the 15th of August, also known as ‘ferragosto’ is a holiday in Italy. It was originally introduced as a celebration for the end of a long and intense farming and a good harvest.

Traditionally horse races was organized and farm animals had a day off and were decorated with flowers.

rinaz.net beach time

Nowadays Italians would typically just go for a beach holiday or a vacation in the mountains. While Cart and I would normally just stuff our faces with food in a restaurant somewhere in Italy :P

So happy holidays to all and have a lovely weekend :-)

Sam is dead

I’ve had Sam the scooter since 2010.  He’s old, ugly and beat up but we’ve been fixing him up slowly – with a new wind-shield, new brake clutches, new centre cover and most recently, I bought a new box which made grocery shopping a whole lot easier.

But the most important part is that he’s been very dependable, bringing me from point A to point B most of the time and I’ve always preferred two wheelers over four on account of how it’s a lot more easier to find parking as well as the more cost effective fuel consumption.

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Unfortunately, the area where we live in is very happening, especially during the summer. Once there was a burglary attempt in our apartment, then one of the mirror was stolen from Sam. Even our friend who’s living in another zone had his safe burgled from his apartment.

The last time when I used Sam was on Saturday. I did a quick grocery shopping to get some ingredients to make some apple crumble for a BBQ meet later in the evening. When we reached back home, it was pretty late so we didn’t notice anything amiss.

It was only in the late morning when Cart peeked out of the window and asked me, “Where’s Sam?“. Alarmed, I quickly rushed down to search for him. He wasn’t there. I looked all around the vicinity. Still not there and no trace of him. Someone actually took the effort to carry him off? Someone actually stole my old, ugly beat up scooter? Cart hypothesised that Sam, being an old scooter, tend to be used for snatch thieves and then discarded somewhere else.

Adventures of Stickrinaz

So we made a police statement soon after that so we’d be in the clear should there be any traces of crime. We were lucky that there was someone serving us, considering how a lot of things are closed in August. The whole day, I guess I was either in a state of shock or my brain was still trying to process what was going on but I didn’t feel much. When we recounted our story to my in laws, my MIL thinks that it could be abandoned in the area, but I wasn’t feeling very hopeful.

The next day, I heard the intercom buzz and a kind neighbour said that she found a blue scooter next to the church. A little bit hopeful, I quickly rushed down to investigate. Sam was there, right where she said. But he was in such a bad condition – his seat was broken, the FR panel was ripped apart and the neck of the scooter was broken – I couldn’t put my key in the ignition so I couldn’t tell if the engine was still working or not. As bad as how Sam looked before, I just couldn’t bear to see him now.

In fact, it’s Cart who snapped these pictures. Not me.

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No idea the reason this part was broken for. 

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The hinge was forced open.

The strange part is, the riding gloves which I left in the scooter was still there, as well as the chain and lock. These combined, costs quite a bit. However, they took my straw hat which costs around 10 euro. I don’t understand why?

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So if you ever see a guy in Rome wearing a straw hat with a pink band on it …

Cart’s advising me to to get Sam fixed while we transition on getting a new one. I don’t know, it seems like a waste of money. Moreover with my mechanic coming back from his vacation in September, seems like a waste of time too.

Mi Powerbank – First impressions

Normally a lot of people would scoff at getting a made in China product, nevertheless I’ve been eyeing on the Mi Power-bank for a while. While it was originally meant for the China market, they’ve recently started selling their stocks to limited countries in South-East Asia.

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

At 10,400mAh, it is extremely powerful – that’s about twice the capacity of my older power-bank, and when fully charged, has enough juice to charge my phone for about 3 times. The best part is, that it costs only 14 SGD. That’s about 8 euro! I cannot think of anywhere else where you could get this much power at this price. Too bad that it’s not distributed to the rest of the world.

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

From what I’ve heard, it’s not that easy to get one. It’s usually sold online once a month at about 5 000 or 10 000 units at a time, and they are always sold out in 5 minutes.

Which was why I was really enthralled when my friend Renhao managed to snag some and has very kindly given Cart and I, one each, a  as a gift. Thank you so much! :-)

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

I won’t go too much into the technical details of it as there are plentiful of reviews of them online but at first glance, I think that it’s totally gorgeous and I’m completely enamoured.

Opening the cardboard box, I was impressed at the simplistic beauty of the packaging inside. There is an opaque box with the power-bank and cable fitting perfectly inside. And that’s it. I really like that it was not overly packaged, so there’s hardly any wastage at all.

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

I don’t know if it’s that impressive for you, but to me I appreciate how everything fits in their own Zen. The whole packaging looks as if a lot of thought was given in the design process.

The power-bank itself looks extremely sophisticated – with the sleek aluminium finish and the white decals at the edge. Touching and holding it, it does not feel nor look cheap.

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

It’s significantly heavier compared to my old power-bank. I have yet to use it though as I’ve started to charge it in the morning at about 9.30 am. At 4.30 pm, it still needed another 25% more to go and I saw that it was finally fully charged when I reached back home in the late evening.

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

Despite that long charge, it’ll be able to complete charge my phone about 3 times. It’ll be useful when I’m using battery intensive aps and I can’t wait to try it out :-)

rinaz.net Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

With two power-banks under my belt, I am now an unstoppable mobile warrior!

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy