Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breaking The Code....


                                                                        Click to enlarge


Back in 1997, a code found it's way into my hands. Even as the most irregular diarist (ahem!) the world has ever seen back then, the secret contents of the diary was always in danger of being read by curious eyes. Little did I know that many years later, looking at the few (note the emphasis on the word irregular above) coded entries, my enthusiasm in keeping them a secret would be in danger of being a secret forever and ever. To add to the drama, I also recently managed to misplace the entries, find them again, and finally break them, albeit through a wee bit of fingertip magic. 

A friend had asked me on FB if I was okay with her trying to break the code, and so here it is... (mostly because blogspot is a more secret place than FB - in my case, anyway) 

Jai, the code is all yours. :)

And also whoever else who might want to break it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Big North Sumateran Adventure Part 2

Continued from here

Samosir Island
The view from the island right after the rain


Samosir Island has got to be one of the most relaxing places on earth, other than being one filled with interesting ancient history.

We left the mainland, Parapat, via ferry the next morning, after a typical Indonesian breakfast, which could also be mistaken for a Malaysian breakfast due to our close proximity. As we had nothing better to do, we sat in the ferry and observed people. The locals (or so we presumed) packed their breakfast into tupperwares and bags and enjoyed it on the ferry trip, like a picnic, while the wind whipped their hair and jackets about (if they sat near the open windows that is.) Some of them puffed on their cigarettes mulling over life. People wore jackets, and some kids were dressed in such a way that made you think you were going to a really cold place. We also took some time to look out of the window, the cold wind blowing at our faces and the reluctant sun occasionally showing itself, shining on our faces and giving us the slight bit of warmth normally associated with Asian countries.


Without any incident, not much later we arrive on dry land, and head towards an area called Tomok, where King Sidabutar and his family were buried. An interesting thing we learned from the guide here is that during the older times when animism was still practiced, the kings were not buried underground as they believed that underground represented hell. Only after Christianity was embraced only did they get buried underground.

To enter the burial site, you are given a cloth known as the ulos, which you drape on your right shoulder as a sign of respect. I also found it interesting that there was no entrance fee to see the graves. You can just walk in and out, however, there is a little box in which you are encouraged to drop in some cash to help maintain the area. So unlike typical tourist sites which almost always require an entrance ticket. Just behind this area was a row of stalls selling trinkets from key-chains to t-shirts. We had some time to shop, which we did with some enthusiasm.

To be continued

Oh, What a Week!

It was a time when the future looked bleak,
And a bird quit catching worms with its beak,
Yellow turned to green,
And everywhere people turned mean,
Oh, What a week!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bathroom Stories

What was once a place where men went to for a tinkle was recently converted into a place where women would go for similar reasons. It's situated right next to the original women's bathroom. An observation on the local bathroom habits show that women always prefer going into the original women's bathroom and will only choose the converted one if the original one is occupied. Even more absurd is whilst being in the converted bathroom, you tend to feel that you're living in a reflection (everything is on the opposite side of the original bathroom), and wildly imaginative minds imagine that when you open the door, you will be met with an angry glare from some guy who had to wait for the bathroom!

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I slept off while reading yesterday afternoon, and it was a pretty good sleep, until the very end that is, no thanks to an afternoonmare (instead of the more popular nightmare).

My sister and I had apparently gone to the local mall nearby and for some *strange reason had to go to the bathroom there. Now, the bathrooms there (and we have used them before without any problem) are relatively clean (except the ones nearest the cineplex exits for obvious reasons), and all the water pipes are hidden rather well. 

However, for some reason, this bathroom had huge red pipes exposed, red suction hoses hanging around aimlessly and a big hole on the wall at the far right. The lights were dim as well. Under normal circumstances, we would have walked out and practiced bladder control. Just because it was a dream, and we had no control of the outcome, my sister used the nearest cubicle while I reluctantly stood outside keeping watch as the door couldn't be locked. In what seemed like forever, shadowy people walked in and out of the bathroom, and one even had the gall to walk in on the sister despite my protests! 

Suddenly the red suction hoses start swinging, slowly at first and they begin to pick up speed, hitting me in the process. What happens after that is a blur (after all, it was a dream) but all I know is that I was somehow being trapped and attacked by the pipes and some invisible, fear inducing force that I can't escape from. I let out silent screams to no avail, and I subconsciously knew it was a dream, and was trying to force myself to wake up which I couldn't until I told my dream-self to bite my fingers, which as stupid as it sounds, woke me up.

* No one really goes to the mall to go to the bathroom - although the beginning of the dream indicates as such. Mostly you end up going because you've had too much liquid, or were exposed to cold temperatures for too long! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This Ain't a Love Story

Fellow sufferers of a mild form of Facebook addiction may agree that the famous social network occasionally throws people you might know at your face when you least expect it. Most times, while you might have a friend or two in common, it's quite likely that you may not know who they are. At other times, let's just say that there's a reason (one that you're not exactly willing to divulge) why you're not already friends with that particular person they so excitedly think you may know.

Earlier this year, FB decided that it was time to throw *Jimmy L across my path, and since he belongs to neither of the categories above, I approached it with my brand of curiosity and a trip down memory lane - though most of it is a bit hazy, and dusty and (for the lack of a better word), downright strange. This is because Jimmy L happens to be the very first boy I was teased with, at the crazy age of ten -  a very, very long time ago.

It was towards the end of the 1990 school year, the day right after the school prize giving ceremony. Jimmy L was seated or standing under a huge rain-tree that was right in the middle of the school (The school had some of the most lovely trees, and sadly one of them actually got struck by lightning on 1st April 1992 (no joke!) - a year and a few months after this story, and fell right across the roof of the Standard 6 building one stormy night) for reasons I can't remember. At the same time, a classmate and I were walking together from one part of the school to another, passing the tree Jimmy L was so carefully taking care of. (Note: I suspect the reason for us not being in our respective classes was due to it being recess, but I could be mistaken)

He suddenly called out to me and asked me if I was (insert real name here), to which I said yes, with raised eyebrows. He then proceeded to congratulate me on my big win the day before in the school prize giving ceremony, asking if I was willing to give him any of the books I won (The school at that time gave us story books for every academic prize won) I have no idea what I told him in response, but seeing that I was a smart ass at that time it would have been a pretty smart ass reply as far as smart ass replies for a ten year old go. 

And for some equally strange reason, after what could have possibly been the strangest exchange in my entire life till then, my classmate decided that the most appropriate thing to do was to tease me with Jimmy. It went on for about a year, and spread to quite a number of our other classmates like wildfire - ten and eleven year old kids seriously have nothing better to do with their lives (Jimmy was a year older and left the school after that year, possibly contributing to the end of the teasing) Even worse was the way the teasing was done.What they'd do is they just stop calling you with your own name, and call you with his name instead. And after some time, you get so desensitized by it, that you actually turn to look when they call you by a name that was never yours. And that, is the story of the how I got teased with the very first person I got teased with!

*No need for fake Russian names to protect his identity here

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The World is a Stage, and We are all Just a Confused Lot

He turned into a she for awhile (Peer pressure? Quarter life crisis?) And now, he's back to being a he. In fact he's getting engaged in a month or so, to a she.

(Yes, me being back to blogging also means the re-emergence of pointless posts)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Cos Everybody Needs Some Background Story At Times

As far as movie franchises go, X-Men happens to be one of the few that I've actually made an effort to catch (background story: I'm not an avid moviegoer), and that is how I'd like to think I ended up in a cineplex after work yesterday amidst loud popcorn crunchers and children in pyjamas. 

Funny thing about children, though.. there are was this huge family with lots of little kids in front of us, and one of them started whining (this was before the movie started), and I accidentally said "shhhh" out aloud and inadvertently set a good example to the (presumably) older sibling who said "shhhh" when the younger one started whining again. 

But I digress...

(Plot spoilers may lie ahead like landmines - so skip this if you haven't watched X-Men First Class and want to be surprised when you do)

Long before most of us were born, a boy sees his mother being shot when he couldn't repeat some magic with metal which he was seen performing earlier under duress. In another place around the same time, another boy meets someone similar to him, finally proving his theory that he was not alone. This is the story of X-Men, long before they were known as such, long before Professor X and Magneto decided that they didn't want to necessarily be on the same team, and long before the mutants knew what the were capable of. 

The story progresses with both boys getting older - one seeking revenge for the monstrosities set upon him and his power to have his way with metal, the other, reaching professor-hood despite his boyish good looks with his thesis on mutants. On the other hand, an evil plot (after all, what is a movie without an evil plot being hatched somewhere?) is being plotted, and the CIA gets involved and all these events lead to the inevitable joining of forces between Mr.Boyish-Good-Looks aka Charles X Xavier aka Professor X and the Boy Who Seeks Revenge aka Erik aka Magneto as they attempt to avert the evil plot with the help of a CIA agent, and a few trained mutants. Nevertheless, where there are humans, there is always trouble. Seeing how powerful the mutants are, after they had successfully averted the evil plot (a war), the two parties which almost went into war with each other targeted the mutants instead, which ultimately led to them to split into the two factions as we know them. 

Some other things worth mentioning in no particular order:
1. A bunch of young untrained mutants were having fun and decided that Magneto and Professor X were suitable names for Erik and Charles respectively. While it was initially brushed aside by them, in the end, they did stick to those names!
2. Charles X Xavier, as a young man had a thing for his mop of hair on his head. If only he could see the future!
3. He also had one of the cutest pick up lines ever.
4. The cameo appearance by a certain someone explains why women over 30 can be caught giggling like infatuated teenagers.
5. One word to describe this movie: Awesome.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Big North Sumateran Adventure

The Plan

The end of October and early November of last year witnessed my sister and I in one of our many happier moments - not only as sisters (we both probably had evil thoughts of wrestling with each other, that didn't pan out), but as people in general. 

It's been ages since then, and details are a little vague, but it certainly involved a few bookmarked pages, blogs by other people who have done similar things and some concern regarding missing information about transportation from the middle of nowhere to the city, and in all that insanity, the two planners extraordinaire had completely overlooked the fact that our destination had recently been subject to a volcanic eruption from a volcano that had gone through centuries of inactivity!
The Plan - sort of

Our plan, however, was to make our way from KL to Medan (by flight, naturally), and then get away from Medan to Parapat, spend a night there, go on to the Island of Samosir the next day, visit some selected places based on the websites we read, spend the night and then leave for Parapat again, and then head on to Berastagi where we will spend another night, and spend the next day travelling back to Medan for our flight back. We had some difficulty in getting info for transportation from Berastagi back to Medan, and therefore decided to get some help in the form of a guide - plus we're two girls with very little street cred in a foreign land.

Some Airport Drama

Read this post.

From Medan to Parapat

Medan greeted us with a slight drizzle, and despite losing the pink duffel bag, thoughts of adventure clouded most of the worries that were related to losing the bag. Toiletries could be bought, we could conserve energy on our phones by taking turns keeping it on, and we could do without face towels and tissue papers. All you need was to relax. Medan itself was pretty much like any other city, vehicles moving back and forth, buildings, some trees, etc. Naturally excitement built up from the knowledge that a few hours later, we'd be away from he city, smelling fresh air and seeing a lake that has been covered in our geography books while we were in school.

However, due to the lack of sleep from the night before, I found myself in deep sleep throughout most of the journey! Sad but true, I suppose I missed seeing the transition of scenery as we moved out of the outskirts of the city into deep single lane roads of the countryside. I was awake after lunch, though, and as we went deeper into the island, the land elevated, and the temperature became much cooler. We could see trees, clouds and the lake even from a distance. The sights can literally take your breath away.

Parapat

Parapat: Overlooking the lake

Horas!
We reached Parapat late in the afternoon, and were introduced to the words Horas! - which is a greeting, much like "hello"

Parapat is a little town that's adjacent to Lake Toba. Most holidaymakers go here, as can be seen by the rather large number of lakeside resorts and hotels.

What makes it interesting though is that the locals use the lake for their daily use and went by their own business that Saturday afternoon, unlike in some other tourist destinations. A family of three sisters and a brother washed their clothes by the lake, taking turns to scrub, rinse and squeeze the clothes. A bunch of skinny young boys happily swam in the lake, one of them trying out some stunts by hanging onto a moving ferry and diving into the lake when it was deep enough to the cheering of his mates. One of them saw us when they came back up ashore and asked us if we wanted to take their picture which we politely declined ;)

to be continued...

(map from traveling Indonesia)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Phone Calls from the 4th Dimension

A few days ago:

Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper rings out clearly as my phone lights up. I reach out and pick it up, not recognizing the number and hoping that I don't have to be rude to someone trying to convince me to buy insurance I don't need. 

Rovanski: Terra! You were looking for me? I saw a missed call from you.
Me: Oh. No, no.. I wasn't looking for you
Rovanski: Oh, you probably wrongly called me then. Bye.
Me: Bye.

Strange. Rovanski's number was not in my phone, and yet he received a call (which he missed) from my number even though I was conscious and my phone was with me all the time. Besides, I don't really call people on their mobile phones unless it is an emergency and only after I've exhausted attempts at all other forms of communication. I thought it was just a one time thing, but I was clearly mistaken.

A few days later:

The phone rings again, and it's Rovanski again although I still didn't recognise the number as I haven't added it into my phonebook. Yet.

Rovanski: Hey, you called me three times earlier today? Anything?
Me: No, I didn't call you. Are you sure it's my number? 
Rovanski: I'm calling you back using the number that I missed the call from. Check back your outgoing calls.
Me: Your number's not there. It's really weird. I should talk to (insert stupid service provider's name here)

I haven't actually spoken to the service provider because I don't really know how to explain what is going on without sounding like a moron as it would imply that there's a duplicate of my number running around making calls to unsuspecting people who are not even in my phone book.

Photo flicked off interwebin. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Blog: Resurrected

It was in the late 80's. The family would sit together with cups of tea in our hands while watching some old reruns, among them this one show called The Fugitive. As I attempted drafting this post in my head, all directions of what I was about to write here made me sound like I was a fugitive myself - running for or from what, or who am I hiding from, I can't say. 

The thing is, some time ago, I encountered something that made me very, very uncomfortable on this blog (the old url, anyway) that led me to make the drastic action of deactivating it. I sat up from 7 am on a certain Saturday morning and unpublished my posts one by one, and with almost 600 posts written all the way from 2006 till now, I completed the task only four hours later. I then proceeded to hide my blog by making it readable by only myself, and I took off the search engine options.

Despite the sluggish posting and the confession that sharing too much of myself here was detrimental to my well-being, tearing down the blog was the hardest thing to do. I almost immediately wanted to start on something new, as I mentioned here, but I was also torn. Will I still be able to write as I used to? (Not that my past posts were that awesome - rereading some of them while unpublishing the blog made me cringe in disbelief at some of the things I wrote)


Therefore, after some time to cool off, and some time to think, and the sudden urge to wield my pencil again (personally, stuff written in an old diary from 2003 in pencil seem much better than typing them straight out on the post editor), this blog was born. We have a brand new url  and name (although I'm a wee bit concerned about the presumptuous nature of the name of the blog as I discussed with a friend right before this post) and hopefully a renewed enthusiasm to put to print what crosses my mind. 

I hereby present you: Raconteur-esque Scribblings