Lazy Italian days

Thoughout my entire stay, Cartcart was so sweet to have cooked for me. Some of them include:


Grilled Bell peppers with Olive Oil and Parsley

Tomato Rice with potatoes and salad on the side

They were all lovely. In fact, he fed me so well, that I’m still rather bloated at this point of writing. In turn, I wanted to cook for him too. I tried to make Vermicelli Soup with the pack of dried vegetables that I packed along. Inside it contained dried shitake mushroom, dried lily buds, vermicelli and dried tofu which I soaked to make it softer.

I cut up some potatoes and finally eggs which I eventually combined with the soaked food in boiling water.

Me : Eh? Why is the water boiling like that? Why is there so much bubbles?

Cart : Its the type of water we have here. We’ve always had these type of water.

Me : This water is hard water!!!

Cart : Its good water! Full of calcium.

I try my best to scoop away the bubbly deposits. In the meanwhile Cartcart cooked some rice.

Me : Uh, Cartcart… why is the rice so thick? Are you making porridge?

Cart : Oh no. This is risotto. Doesnt your rice look like this?

Me : No. Our rice doesnt expand like that.

Cart : It must be that risotto contains more starch that makes it so.

Me : Ohh … Well, the dish is all done! Lets tuck in!

Cart : Smells good

I taste the soup with the risotto and makes a face

Cart : Whats wrong?

Me : Something’s missing

Cart : What?

Me : There’s no flavour! This is tasteless!

Cart : No! This is fine! Really!

Me : No its not! Yuck! I’m hopeless at cooking! I’m so ashamed! I conked up with such a simple dish! This is terrible!

Cart : Come on! See, I’m still eating it. Its not bad, really!

Me : I dont like it!!!

Cart : Ok, what can we do to improve this?

We stuffed the food in the fridge and the next day, Cartcart helped to buy some soup cubes. I beamed at him and proceeded to fix my concoction.

Me : Ready!

Digs in to the soup with the risotto

Me : Mmm! Much better!

Cart : Yes it is, but I’ll still eat whatever you cook 😛

We went for a walk in the park in the vicinity. I’ve been facinated with the relaxing, flowing fountains outside of Cart’s window. It was so tranquil to see children playing with their families and to see people just relaxing after a workday.

Me : Look dearest! A rosemary bush. Smells great! There’s one there too, and there and there!

Cart : Oh my gosh. So many

Me : Now we can cook baked potatoes 😛

Grocery shopping in the afternoon. I was facinated by the rows and rows of different cheeses. There were so many that the eyes can see. I’ve never seen so many varieties and make before.

Cartcart shows me some vegetables that I’ve never seen before.

Cart : Do you have this? (Holds up a Radicchio)

Me : No, never seen it before

Cart : How about this? (Points to orange zucchini flowers)

Me : No, thats not a common food here.

Cart : Banana?

Me : I know what a banana is!

Cart : I mean, for the banana pudding. Is that good?

Me : Oh. (sheepish) Yeah. I think so.

After the grocery shopping, we chanced upon Cartcart’s parents and they invited us up to their apartment. Cart’s mom showed me some old pictures of the family and I admired the beautiful family. (Cart’s mom was a hottie in her days!)

She then showed me a some dancing videos and proudly showed the trophies that they won. (Cart’s parents used to teach dancing)

Cart’s mom : We got 3rd place in the national dance competition

Me : Impressive! Do you still dance?

Cart’s mom : No, we only do it for fun now

Me : What kind of dance do you know?

Cart’s mom : Foxtrot, Cha cha, Paso Doble, Jive, Rhumba …

Me : Awesome … I’d like to know how you are able to balance yourself in such high heels

Cart’s mom : It takes practise, lots and loads of practise 😉

We went to Gianicolo in the evening afterwards and admired the view. Gianicolo was a higher point in Rome and it had the spectacular view of the different famous Roman monuments. I could see the vittorio emanuele monument from here. From the distance, I can even the Pantheon and the stronghold.

It was also a great make out place.

I noticed a few couples making out beside the lighthouse tower. At the same time, a tour bus arrived, full of American tourists. These people came pouring in and snapped pictures of the view like there were no tomorrow.

And yet ANOTHER tour bus arrived and our area was full of tourists (at 9pm?) I could imagine the other couples being disgusted at the disturbance. These people cuddling up with their partners and then suddenly multiple camera flash buzzes.

But why would anyone would use flash at night time? It doesnt illuminate the background and the picture will turn all washed out. It reminded me of what Satoko said about Japanese tourists posing with peace sign at every single thing and it made me chuckle.

Some people do such funny things.

To be continued

Waking up from a dream

Back in Singapore again after a 14 hour flight ordeal.

Missing him a lot. Where did the time go? It feels like the days just passed by in a blink of an eye. A wonderful week with my dearest and now I’m back here again. It’s quite heart aching actually, sometimes.

I spent a most lazy vacation, doing nothing but lounging around the house doing housework and meals, and the occasional dinner and passeggiata. I was even too lazy to take much pictures. Not complaining though, getting a break from work and studies was a total breather.

And the meet with Cartcart’s parents? I think it went fine.

They invited us for dinner on wednesday. Throughout the day, I asked Cartcart, “Do we bring gifts? How do I greet them? What are the correct things that I should do?”

I spent a while thinking of what to wear before finally deciding to stick to the feminine and demure pink knit top and skirt that I was already wearing.

By the time I was done blogging, we were in a rush already! We were supposed to be there at 7.30 pm and we only left home at 7p m. Cart told me that it was considered rude to turn up exactly on time as it was perceived that the guest was only interested in eating.

I didn’t know that! Ack!

At length, we finally reached the place. Cartcart quipped, Relax! Sometimes I’m always late anyway, We take it for granted since we are family 😛

He pressed the buzzer, the gate opened and I stepped in and a rather large apartment. There were a few people already at the door saying hello.

I muttered in confusion, Buona Sera, Buona Sera.

Cartcart introduced me to his sister, Paola, her assistant, and finally his mom and dad. I shook hands with them and smiled but I was rather flustered as I couldn’t speak the language so well. It was way over what I could handle.

Nevertheless, they were really nice and friendly. Since I wasn’t fluent in Italian and the rest of the family wasn’t fluent in English, Cart had to be the translator, bridging me and the rest of the family. Poor Cartcart, having to talk non-stop like that. 😛

Cart’s dad invited us down to the garden for an aperitif while he talked about the fruit trees that he had taken cared of. Paola’s children came down to play and I was amazed at how extremely cheerful the family was. Everyone was smiling and clapping and saying words of encouragement to the children even at the smallest accomplishment. It looked very very loving.

It was quite different to the more reserved Asian household that I was used to.

In time, we had dinner and I looked and marveled to myself that I’m actually having authentic home cooked Italian pasta. Paola made tomato based pasta with olives, capers and a large prawn. It looked more like a small crayfish actually.

After which we were served with a large plate with at least 6 different cheeses. By then, I was already rather full as Italian portions are rather large. But I wanted to try the cheeses anyway. The sweet Cartcart carved some for me and I tried a few. There was one in particular cheese which I was fond of – the delicate sweet milk cream cheese which tasted very refreshing with honey.

Paola’s daughter was gregarious but appeared shy when she was near me. Cartcart explained that she was fascinated by Sandokan, a popular Italian TV series about a Malay pirate. And me being a Malay, she was expecting me to arrive with a kris and give a fighting display. Which was quite funny as I’ve never heard about this ‘Sandokan‘ before being explained about it.

Cart’s mom and dad had a chat with me over dessert while the children were sent to bed. It was already approaching 9.30 pm. Interestingly, it was still bright at 8.30 pm.They asked questions about Singapore, the nice sights to see around here, how the country made their money, and the different types of people here.

I looked at Cart’s parent’s features and I can even see how he got his eyes from his mum and his nose from his dad. “He’s got my stubborness too!”, quipped Cart’s dad.

A while later, we thanked them for a wonderful dinner and said our goodbyes. It was the norm to make kissing sounds as you put your cheek left and right, close to theirs.

As I waved from out the window, I asked Cartcart.

Me: How did I do?

Cartcart : Well, I think that it went fine. If I dare say, I’m sure they think that you’re cute!

Me : Cute!? Grr …

The night seemed rather early. Cartcart decided to take me out to Piazza Navona. It was a lovely night as we walked down the cobblestones as I recognized the place were we visited last year. Though it was night time, there were still a throngful of people walking about and we stopped for a while to listen to a group of people singing acapella.

I then noticed a stand with a cartoonist drawing caricatures. Admiring his style, I persuaded Cartcart to have a caricature of us together. He was initially shy, but after much insistence on my part, finally agreed.

“Smile! Bigger! Smile again!”, directed the cartoonist as I gave out a grin and looked out at the statues and buildings around the Piazza.

Me : The place has changed a little bit

Cartcart : Really?

Me : Yes, I see renovations in some of the buildings.

By now, some people gathered by to see the cartoonist at work and there was this lady who was chuckling at something the cartoonist drew.

At length, the artist was done and we took a look at the completed picture.

I think the cartoonist did Cartcart really well. The facial features, the beard, the nose, the eyes. It doesn’t look like me however, save for maybe the hair.

We then walked to the Fontana Di Trevi. By then it was way past midnight and yet there were a number of people around. Most of them threw in coins and took pictures. There was one crazy enough to dip her legs in the fountain and posed for a picture. A couple even pushed another into the fontana and made themselves soaking wet. It wasn’t allowed though and soonafter a policeman was blowing his whistle and gave a glare.

I looked into my coin purse and to my horror only found 10 SG cent coins. It was something that couldn’t be helped. I threw three 10 cent coins in the fountain. And then sat down to hug and cuddle with Cartcart as we looked at the tranquil fountain.

It was a beautiful night. It was a moment that I didn’t want to last.

To be continued

Funny day

Too funny.

I have a friend called Narima, who lives in Jurong, the same area as me. We could have met with the conveniences of a shopping center in Jurong, but noooo, we had to go all the way to Rome just to meet each other.

It was Sunday, and we were to meet each other at the Porta Portese fleamarket for a ‘just us’ get together, at around noon time. Cartcart dropped me off at one of the road junctions while I confidently walked down the road. “I’ve been here before”, I thought to myself. Finding Narima would be a piece of cake.

What I failed to remember was the sheer size of the place. There were rows and rows of makeshift vendor carts that the eye can see. I walked aimlessly and wondered where to head to in the sea of people, pushing against each other.

Narima started to sms me.

“Where are you?”

“I’m right here at this brown building with white ledges”

“I’m deep in the market”

“How do I meet you?”

“I dont know”

“I dont know either!”

“Call me, Marina. I dont know how to make overseas call”

“My prepaid card doesnt allow me to do that”

After more sms being passes back and forth, Narima finally managed to call me.

“Which street are you at?”

“I’m at this street called the Renella Modena”

“Huh? How do you spell it?”



My prepaid card was completely used up. I tried to sms her. It still didnt work. There was absolutely no credits left in the card. I panicked. I couldnt call anyone for help. What am I going to do now?

I stood there at the corner of the street and just froze up in the warm noonday sun.

Fortunately for me, by a chance of miracle, about an hour later, I saw Narima and we were so relieved to see each other. We had a walk along the beautiful streets of Trastrevere and we talked quickly and animatedly about our experiences so far.

Narima told me that she arrived in Italy on Friday (I arrived Thursday) after being stuck in Doha for about a day, waiting for the transit flight. It was most tiring, she said. I asked her why she didnt book using direct airline like KLM or Airfrance. She answered that it was the ticket that the agent gave her and she couldnt change it.

Narima invited me back to her dorm just to chill out. I thought it would be great to see things on our own. So we took the Circo Massimo Metro to head to the Termini Station, where her dorm was. I still remember the biglietto that had to be purchased to be used for public transportation.

The ticket needed to travel on public transportation

There were alot of people in the metro.

Scene of the metro

When we reached the Termini Station, I felt like a salmon when they need to swim against the waterflow. Everyone pushed me to go to the direction of the exit. And I had to comply. I couldnt see Narima anywhere! Maybe I’ll just wait at the exit and see if she’ll turn up.

There were three policemen at the exit for some reason, preventing people to go up the steps into the station.

Every time someone tries to go up, they will say in a loud voice, “No! No! Venga! Venga!”

After 30 minutes, Narima still didnt turned up and I panicked again. With no way to make calls, and no way to make sms, I really felt helpless. It really is frightening to be in such a huge place with no idea how to get around. I still wasnt very fluent with the language and thus making the situation even more difficult.

Fortunately for me, I saw a payphone that accepted coins (usually they accepted cards only) and I called up my dearest.

Me : Icantbelieveit!I’mlostagain!Idontlikebeinglost.Thisisscary!Helpme!

Him : What? Slow down, I cant understand what you are saying!

Me : I cant find Narima! Now I dont know where to go!

Him : Where are you right now?

Me : I’m at the Termini Station

Him : Wait for me at the Via Giolitti exit. I’ll pick you up.

So I headed up to the exit and saw the crowds coming and going. There were many different people, all speaking in a language that I was not familliar in. It was so surreal. And I wondered about Narima, where is she? Will she be alright?

Cartcart picked me up after a while and I felt so relieved to see a familliar face. I used his mobile to sms to Narima not to worry about me and that I’m heading back.

A few hours later, Narima called Cartcart’s mobile phone and talked to me excitedly.

“I’m so worried for you!”

“Where were you? I waited for you!”

“It must be scary to be lost in a large foreign country like that!”

I was really touched by what Narima did and said. That was extremely sweet of her to stay while her companions left without her to head back to their hotel. I invited her for dinner with Cart and me. Thats the least I could do.

In the evening, we picked them up from the Metro station and headed to the L’antica Roma restaurant that we’ve been to (and I liked) last year. Narima was amazing. She made friends with a Japanese girl from her dorm a few hours before and invited her for dinner with us.

And we had a rather interesting time getting to know her.

Satako was her name and she lived in Tokyo. She’s amazing as she was only 19 and here she was travelling around the world (alone) with the money that she earned herself! Narima and I remarked at how brave she was. At 19, we were still both the goody type of person in school.

Me : Bah! Cant stand you! You’re doing all these and you are younger than me, taller than me, prettier than me …

Narima : Skinnier too

Satoko ordered pasta, Narima ordered a pizza while Cart and I had the Gnocchi each.

Me : The pizza is going to be quite large, Narima

In time, the food arrived and as expected, the single portion pizza was rather huge. Narima was very surprised at this. Back in Singapore, this type of size would be for 2 – 3 people.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun joking and talking over dinner.

Narima : Wow! All these Italians are so noisy over dinner!

Me : Lets join in too!

(We both speak animatedly in Malay)

Narima : You know what? We can even curse in our language and they wont understand a word!

Me : £$%/%!”!!!

Narima : You )(£%&”%/&!!!

It was just too funny.

Anyway, got to go off soon. Meeting Cart’s family in a few minutes. I wonder how it will turn out.

P.s European keyboards are so wierd. It takes ages for me to find the symbols that I want to use.

To be continued

Tonight I fly again

Its here again, the same feeling as I had last year – the wretched combination of butterflies in my tummy, nerve wrecked feeling and euphoric excitement all at the same time.

Tonight I fly, please wish me a safe journey

My battle with Acne

Warning : This post may contain disturbing graphic images

Though I don’t think of myself as a model-worthy person, I do think of myself as a relatively attractive woman.

I have to thank my genes, both my parents being good looking – my mum of Bugis descent while my dad is 1/4 Indian.

When I wake up and look in the mirror, most of the times, I’m quite thankful to see that even without the aid of make-up, a relatively clear face with a hint of pink on the cheeks, shiny and abundant black hair.

It hasn’t always been like that though.

Growing up as the eldest child, in a neighbourhood full of male peers, I was a tomboy and I didn’t care about how I looked like.

As a toddler

At 8 years old with the world’s best brother

At 12 years old, with my cousin Noreen

But as I grew out of my childhood, and puberty kicked in, I started to have acne. At first, it was quite tolerable, the acne was small-ish and it was infrequent. I started to use a fair bit of my pocket money to buy loads of over the counter face wash, to try to control the zits. I tried brands like Neutrogena and Oxy-10.

Some of them worked fine, while others didn’t work very well and even made my face crack and burn. In time, I learnt which brands I needed to avoid.

But the worse was to come.

During my pre-university days in JI, the zits flared threefold and I started to have larger and angrier pustules. It was probably from the stress that I was experiencing while in school. It was extremely disconcerting to see the zits.

Being a student, and unable to afford a dermatologist, I decided to go to the government subsidised polyclinic. I was prescribed an anti-biotic called tetracycline which I had to take regularly.

After a few months my face was clear and I felt pretty again.

Jurong Institute, Racial Harmony Day, 1998

Several years later, I started working as a part time trainer. I started to have small zits on my face. This time, I decided to use a facial set called ‘Proactive Solution’. To a large extent, it was beneficial in controlling my zits, but after using it for a length of time, it began to irritate my sensitive skin. My skin felt stung and raw.

I tried going for facial sessions. I hated the visits though. They have this technique called ‘extraction’ where they poke your face with a metal device and squeeze the zits out. That was excruciating pain! Many a time, I’d be crying out of the pain.

I couldn’t continue with the treatments any more.

I then went back to the government subsidised polyclinic and had a referral to the National Skin Center. I was prescribed with a stronger version antibiotics called doxycycline. After a few months, my skin was clear again and stayed clear till late 2004 and to which I think, started one of the lowest point of my life.

Early 2004

August 2004

December 2004

I used to have a job where the managers mishandled finances, and they decided to suddenly cut my pay in half, and didn’t pay regularly. With the stress of having to make payments for the bills and my upcoming course, my face flared up again. I had to watch my money very carefully and not make extravagant purchases.

I tried to use the internet for advice and took the tips from a forum. It claims that through the correct consumption of food, acne could be controlled.

I gave it a try. I didn’t consume complex sugars and oil and avoided milk. Once a week I did the salt water flush which was supposed to be beneficial for clearing my kidneys to prevent kidney stones that affects the condition of the skin.

I shudder when I see this picture of me in January 2005

It might have worked for a lot of people, but it didn’t worked for me. And my skin continued to be bad till I decided that I’ve had enough and went to see a general practitioner about my face. He prescribed doxycycline. Additionally, he told me that I had to continue with my topical skincare antibiotics even after the internal antibiotics because a woman’s hormones more or less balances out when they turn 30.

Prescription only topical antibiotics

It took longer for my skin to become clear. It has been about two months now that I’ve stopped taking the antibiotics. I still have zits every now and then. But its certainly not as bad as last year. I am starting to feel more confidence about myself now.

I really hope that I don’t get my flare-ups again. No one should go through all that emotional trauma. Even if people say that physical appearances doesn’t matter, it still hurtful when these same people gives out gestures or even worse, comments.

My face is relatively clear at the moment. But lets see how it turns out in time.

By the way, I am not proud of my zits picture but its been part of my growing up. Its part of life, that builds me.

Gimme GT200!

That should have been my face in there!

The urban newspaper featured the Vespa today and I find myself drooling over the different models that was featured there. Most of the riders interviewed owned the Gran Turismo 200 (or GT200 for short)- the bike that I’ve been dreaming to own for ages.

It was love at first sight. The seductive shape of the body, the stylish grandeur, the enchanting shade of green. And it even has the powerful drive of 200cc and has minimal fuel consumption.

I had the luck to chance, the other day to notice this beautiful scooter being parked at the sidepath while walking home. I stared and gazed at it admiringly. I must have taken quite a while, because the owner returned and asked me what I was doing. We had a short chat.

Me : I was just admiring your scooter. This is my dream bike!

Man : Yes, this is a good bike, it doesnt have any gears so accelerating is very smooth!

Me : Do you think that it might be too big for a person like me? I’m worried that I might not be strong enough to handle it.

Man : If you’re nervous about that, you can go for the LX150, its lighter, and its cheaper too.

Me : Thanks for the tip. Have a good day 🙂

Man : Bye! (zooms off into the bustling traffic)

And here I am, still scooter-less after passing my riding test in October. I really really really would like a GT200. I’d be on cloud nine if I get it. It will be a dream! But at the moment, I can only gaze and drool at other people’s Vespas, wishing and moaning for one of my own.

Do you like Vespas? Do you think I’d eventually get one? And would you donate to Marina’s get-a-scooter foundation? Please? Pretty please?


Today is 06.06.06

No one got bitten by the vampires. The devil didn’t rise. No one here was burned at the stake. There was no mass hysteria and pandemonium.

But somewhere out there, in a Singaporean Junior College, there was a Mr S.A. Tan who gave a killer general paper during remedial lesons.

I wonder if he was full of devlish glee.

I did, however had a devlishly good dinner today at the newly opened ZingDo restaurant situated in the Jurong Entertainment Center

Wanting to try something new, I stopped by the Korean based restaurant and under the recommendation of the working crew, I ordered the Bulgogi Chicken with Rice and Kimchi Soup.

It was a hotplate. It arrived sizzling hot and I had to move the meat and vegetables about quickly to allow it to cook. It took no time at all and soon I was tucking in the delightful meal.

The vegetables were fresh, the meat juicy, the soup was a myriad of tastes. I was a very happy and satisfied girl at the end of the whole course 😉

I want to go again!

Its hot hot hot!

Heat does crazy things to people.

Its 1.05am right now and its a really warm night and I cant sleep!

Pssst! Dont tell anyone that I really liked the Spice Girls.

Mel C looks the most scary spice in this pic

It brings out loads of memories of the yesteryears when times were more easy going and less complicated. They were one of the few groups at the time that were a whole load of fun.

Comparing that to the mostly depressing mainstream songs that we have now. Mainstream radio sing about how tough they are. Many of mainstream songs are rather vulgar.

I’m particularly annoyed by this song ‘beep’ by the pussycat dolls.

I don’t give a beep
Keep looking at my beep
‘Cause it don’t mean a thing if you’re looking at my beep
I’m a do my thing while you’re playing with your beep

Fill in the blanks yourself. Guess the real meaning of:

‘while you’re playing with your ____’

a) Uno Cards
b) Nintendo
c) Plushie
d) ????

And I’m totally annoyed by song remixes that uses samples of sped up songs. The original song now sounds as if they were sung by Alvin and the chimpmunks. (Not that I have anything against Alvin and the chipmunks)

Paul Wall ruined the beautiful ‘Oh Girl’ originally sung by the Chi Lites. Why did he do that? Why???

And dont get me started on Lonely by Akon. The chorus is sped up and made it sound like it was sung by a chipmunk –

Lonely I’m Mr Lonely
I have nobody
For my owwnnn oooooh

Argh! Whats wrong with these people? Do they really think it sounds good? My ears bleed! People should just leave beautiful songs as they are and not ruin them!

Interestingly, the Spice Girls uses materials which are original and though they can be rather rambuctious, they dont offend the masses on purpose.

The Spice Girls sing about love, empowerment and friendship.

One of my favourite songs by them was two becomes one. Even if the lyrics were rather simplistic and has nuances in it, it wasnt blatant and it was easy on the ears and the accompaniment of the background music made it soothing even.

I really cant believe that that song is almost 10 years old already. Time really flies by so quickly doesnt it? But Spice Girls really bring me back to days when it was acceptable to act silly just when you feel like it.

Yeah I miss that.

I dont listen to mainstream radio anymore by the way. Do you still listen to mainstream? Do you like the Spice Girls too?

Learn@Singapore 2006

The place where I worked at, Shuqun Secondary School participated in the Learn@Singapore competition. It was a yearly affair hosted by the ministry of education to promote the use of technology in daily life.

Jeerin, Jean and Darshan

We went to the Singapore discovery center for this year’s event. This year, we are supposed to complete a teasure hunt and the clues are given through 3G messaging.

It was loads of fun trying to decode and find the clues and getting to the next challenge. It was interesting to note that we took our time and breeze through the clues while other teams were so frantic and pushed each other while trying to complete theirs

We completed it earlier than most teams anyways 😉

Many participants from various schools

Opening ceremony

Little George is a robot with artificial intelligence

One of the stations we went to

Sending the answers and then receiving clues through the 3G phone

And at the end of the event, the team are supposed to create a moblog and blog about their experiences, what they have learnt and about the theme of the event.

There was a similar competition last year while I was attached to another school. But due to certain events, I didn’t pursue it any further. But I wonder how the team will do this year.