An onyx guardian after 4 years

Hi everyone! I’ve waited for a while to write this post and the day has actually arrived. So why not grab a cup of tea as you read this.

rinaz.net Morticia drinking tea

I’ve finally reached 150 days.

For those of you who play ingress, there is this achievement called the guardian medal. And for those of you who don’t, why not give it a try to see if you like it. In theory this medal is simple to get. Capture a portal and keep it recharged for a certain amount of days – Bronze for 3 days, Silver for 10 days, Gold for 20 days … then the Platinum at 90 days and the Onyx at 150 days.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian Onyx

But in reality, it’s one of the most frustrating, annoying medal to get especially towards the platinum and the onyx. Because even if you travel to the most remote, hard to reach portal, your opponents would magically know when, and go out of their way to break your portals. And it’s always the same people who does it at exactly 140+ days.

Oh wow! How do they know exactly when to break it?

Shia Labeouf Magic GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s magic!

The hypocritical situation would be, is when you capture your neighbourhood and as long as you keep it recharged, stays that way for about 4 months till someone who actually lives there decides to come out of his hibernation to break it.

#lazy

Earlier this year, the makers of Ingress, Niantic announced that they were implementing new rules – such as banning and terminating accounts of people who uses data scraping tools to hunt for guardian portals. While it did help decrease the amount of cheaters, it didn’t deter some of these people and instead they changed their gameplay to break these portals at around 135 days instead to avoid looking too obvious.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

(This portal behind me reached 148 days)

Eventually, Niantic decided to solve this issue by rewarding users who have 80 days and above with the Platinum (instead of 90) and 140 days and above with the Onyx (instead of 150) medals – on the unanticipated date of the second of April. Imagine the uproar if would be if it were on the first instead. ūüėā

Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised at my new medal. Even though I’ve been playing ingress since March 2014, I’ve eventually given up any hope of getting that particular achievement because I’m an active player, making me a good target. And each time without fail, any of my portals reaching 140+ days would get smashed.

Which is why I’ve waited for today for writing this post. Even though I’ve already had the medal for over a month now, it feels quite meaningful.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I understand that that’s part of the gameplay – to break your opponent’s portal but waiting that long to smash it, is just bad sportsmanship.

Nevertheless, I’m thankful for my nice new medal – its a nice addition and has helped me in my global ranking. The next Onyx medals that I’m working on is the Engineer and the Liberator. That’ll take me several months to complete, but I’m in no rush.

Before I end this post, guess what happened to these guardian hunters? Ever since I’ve gotten my medals, I very rarely see them logging in. It’s as if they’ve given up completely. It’s kind of sad actually, all those time, fuel and effort and for what?

rinaz.net Rihanna twirls hair

Nyeh nyeh nyeh!

You can wear my baju kurong

So not too long ago, there was this American girl who wore a cheongsam for her prom. A cheongsam, as you know, is Chinese dress, usually made of cotton or silk and is designed to accentuate the female curves. It’s gorgeous, making it something that a lot of women, even non the Chinese, interested to wear them.

I think she looks cute in it, even if I would have styled the hair different and think the pose in the third picture looks awkward.

However, there was a¬†guy who took offence to it, saying that it was inappropriate for her to wear it for prom. I get the feeling that the guy is being a troll, in the sense that he wants attention by spouting vitriol and doesn’t actually believe in what he is spouting.

Why would he? Even Chinese people in China doesn’t have an issue with it like how you see in the video below :

Personally for me, I think I’d be happy if someone was interested enough to wear my cultural outfits. In fact, I’d be proud for them to wear a beautiful Baju Kurong or a Kebaya to a nice event.

Back in school, once a year, we were even encouraged to wear a different outfits for racial harmony day. A lot of of were excited for this day, because it was a chance for us to wear something different instead of our normal uniforms and it was fun exchanging and trying out outfits with each other. Racism would not even cross our minds as we don the clothes.

(My gosh, this picture was taken 20 years ago)

Why is it so bad that we wear other cultural outfits? I can understand with certain cultures, you need to be of a certain class to be able to wear them – like how it is for wearing the headdress for the Native American tribes.

But for the rest, we shouldn’t have to feel afraid to wear something beautiful, in case that someone would feel offended because we’d be misappropriating their culture.

Burn house beat mother

I mean, if you really want to be pissed off at cultural misappropriation, be pissed off at something that makes more sense – like someone who has never eaten rendang before, telling you how to cook rendang.

With that logic, I should just wear a sarong all year round, even when the temperature drops to minus zero degrees during the winter in Rome. I should stop wearing jeans because it’s only meant for cowboys and miners. And while I’m at it, I should stop learning to dance flamenco because I’m not Spanish, stop learning Italian because I’m not Italian and don’t eat sushi, burrito, paella and all the delicious food in the world.

What nonsense.

Visiting a Cat Cafe in Rome

Laura is¬†an interesting person who I met by chance many years ago while participating in the Maratona di Roma. We’ve kept in touch through social media. She was in Rome earlier this year and we decided to catch up.

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

(Picture stolen from Laura)

Since she was game enough to try a vegan joint and loves cats, I decided to bring her to the cat cafe in Garbatella. I’ve never been here before and have always wanted to visit, so it was a good opportunity for the both of us.

Garbatella by itself is an interesting area, so many things to see here, easy to reach by the metro and full of colourful murals such as this one :

rinaz.net Porto Fluviale

Before you know it, we reached the cafe. From the outside, it looked quite unassuming. But when you get in, it looked so cosy and inviting, especially with their resident cats.

I’ve been to other cat cafe, but most of the¬†cats there seemed anti social – shying away when you try to approach them. Which is understandable when you think about the number of guests who have tried to cuddle with them day after day. But the cats here were amazingly chill and adorable. They didn’t mind you cuddling with them.

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Almost everywhere you turn, there would be something interesting to see, making this cafe extremely instagrammable.

Laura and I were quite hungry then, so we ordered the food which looked interesting. And between us, we had :

Tempura all’erba cipollina con maionese all’aceto balsamico e salsa spicy

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Patatas Bravas

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Dahl croccante su salsa pink raw allo zenzero

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Riso rosso al mango cocco con broccoli e cavolfiore saltati al peperoncino e lime

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

(Picture stolen from Laura)

Mousse cake

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

The food here was delicious albeit on the pricey side with the price of each dish starting from¬†7 euro. But I guess it was okay for the once¬†as a while treat. I especially liked Laura’s rice and would definitely get that the next time I’m there.

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

And in the middle of our meal, I had an interesting talk with Laura – what she’s been up to, her ventures and what she’s been doing during her free time. I¬†admire her in¬†that she’s so courageous, being brave in travelling to different countries for example,¬†and trying to set up her photography business.

If you haven’t seen her photographs, come and take a peek here. She’s very very good!

To end here is an instagram stories montage of our trip there ūüôā

Romeow Cat Bistrot
Via Francesco Negri, 15, 00154 Roma

Going to the Flamenco Festival in Rome

For about three months now, I’ve been going for Flamenco classes and have been enjoying every moment. It’s such a beautiful¬†form of art – the passion, the grace and the sensuality. I can’t believe that I’ve discovered this love at such a late stage in life, but better later than never, right?

rinaz.net Flamenco

Coincidentally this month, Parco della Musica¬†has organised the Flamenco Festival and I’ve managed to catch 3 of the 4 acts.

rinaz.net Festival di danza spagnola e flamenco Roma

The first one was Nova Galega de Danza which I got due to a mix up Рmistakenly thinking that the tickets that I bought online was for that evening, last Friday, but it turned out to be for Monday instead. I was stunned, but not wanting to waste the trip, I another pair of tickets anyway and had a look.

“Son” was an interesting interpretation of the Spanish dance¬†with a fusion of Galician and Contemporary dance. Because it was a last minute thing, I didn’t managed to do any research and when it started, for¬†the first 15 minutes or so, I was confused because it¬†appeared to be completely modern dance … I didn’t see any Flamenco dancing at all. But¬†at length,¬†the high energy¬†appeared¬†and it was fascinating to watch as the men poised and did their footwork.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I enjoyed myself in the end.

On Monday, we watched a musical group, lead by Alfonso Aroca Рwho instead of playing the guitar, uses the piano for his rendition of the Flamenco.  So there was the pianist, a guitarist, two percussionists, a singer and a dancer. It was unique. In the end, the ensemble sounded more like jazz Рeven the flamenco dancer, I feel did his own interpretation of a flamenco dance with a jazz feel.

Here is a segment of what I watched.

Yesterday, we managed to catch the final act with Manuel Linan, which in my opinion was the magnum opus of the entire festival. Which explained why it was completely sold out by the time we arrived at the auditorium and we were lucky to get our seats because of some last minute cancellations.

Manuel Linan does traditional flamenco¬†but the act that we watched yesterday had a twist¬†as the title of the act was “Reversible”. Which explains why he¬†wore a¬†bata de cola and a shawl¬†¬†and danced the female roles¬†while the female player did vice versa.

The entire performance was a feast for the eyes and I was enthralled from the beginning to the end. It wasn’t hard to understand why¬†it was a full house last evening. It was completely mesmerising and the entire ensemble was perfect. I loved the music, I loved the dance, I loved the singing.

I don’t believe that Manuel Linan wanted to be a female while dancing, the way he moves, even in the skirt and the shawl was still very masculine. But his intention was probably to show that even men (and women) can do each other’s roles even in something as traditional as Flamenco.

I had an amazing time these past days and I feel very cultured. Flamenco is probably going to drain me out of my funds, nevertheless, I feel very rich inside. :p

Letting go

It’s been a while since I’ve written a new post. Yikes! My apologies for that, but on the other hand, if you’re on Instagram, I’ve been posting¬†stories when I can. You know, instant gratification and all that ūüėõ

But I’ll try to update more, and now that the weather here in Rome is getting wonky, it’s a good opportunity for me to start hitting the laptop. There are so many things that I’d love to update you guys with.

As you know, I was in Singapore during the summer and reconnecting with my friends and family.¬†Each time that I’m there, it never seems like enough but I’m grateful¬†for the amazing experience that I had.

One of the places that I went to was to my old secondary school. It was by coincidence as I saw a facebook post saying that there was a brunch event there, so I took the opportunity and went back to Bukit View Secondary Рwhere I spent my formative years.

Walking through the campus, a lot of things has changed and the building¬†didn’t looked exactly as it was before, I don’t recognize 99% of the staff there, and even the uniform has changed to a light brown compared to my white and grey.

Nevertheless, as I passed through the various rooms, there were a number of memories that flashed through my mind – pretending the sewing machines was a pedal to a car during Home Economics, trying to get anything better than a ‘C’ during Arts classes, the restroom where there used to be so many toilet paper stuck on the ceiling for some reason … I had so many happy memories here.

Which was was it was shocking to learn that a former classmate passed away not long ago. I was even thinking of him while I passed by my old classroom. His name was Safras Khan. We weren’t close but he was a memorable character – he was opinionated and confident of himself and he’d walk around with a swagger. For some reason,¬†he¬†liked to play November Rain on the PA system every chance he gets,¬†and he’d always be roaming around school with his best friend, Sufian. They were like Ying and Yang. Safras was the gregarious one, while Sufian was quiet.

When I found out that he died from a heart attack, I was surprised because we are all relatively still young. It didn’t feel as if it was that long ago since we were all in school, you know, I still have some memories that are quite vivid, including that 15 year old bespectacled boy with gelled hair.

But I think that at length, the older we get, the more we have to anticipate this happening (Especially since my aunt passed away) and it puts things in a lot of perspective that we have to let go of a lot of things. Which in turn, more and more has changed how I view upon things.

Relationships for the most part. Be it with friends, or be it with family,¬†let’s just enjoy our time with the people that we love. And even if there are people who we dislike being with, just be civil anyway, without being over the top. It’s not like you’re married to them.

There was a time when I got offended at how there were people who didn’t include me in things like dinners and conversations … I still don’t like cliques, but¬†things like that¬†happen. I just have to remember to be kind as everyone makes mistakes, myself included.