Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nuwera-Eliya

Continued from here

It seems that every hot country in Asia which has had a history with British people at some point when they were on a travelling and colonising spree, would be left with hills where people live, grow tea and ultimately end up being a tourist destination. That is perhaps why we found ourselves in Nuwera-Eliya, a settlement on top of a hill with sprawling tea plantations and known to the locals as Little England.

We, on the other hand called it a refrigerator. It was cold. Now, I know my previous posts on travels have been lengthy, but I intend to cover this place in one post, and even if it means typing it out in point form, then point form it is:

1. 7 waterfalls en route. You never know you can get OD'd on waterfalls until you actually do.

At this point I just grabbed a photo from inside the van

2. Yes, it rained - on and off.
3. We had the quickest tour of a tea factory with the unfriendliest guide ever.
4. We bought a lot of tea. This was in January 2011, and some of the tea is still sitting in the house, some still in my office drawer, etc. There's only so much tea you can drink.
5. We couldn't visit the town properly because of the rain. Despite being on top of a hill, several places were flooded.
6. We ended up in some deserted garden. The sister and I braved the rain sans umbrellas and took some pictures.

The deserted garden. No idea what the red line is, though.

A building near the garden

One of the pathways at the garden

7. The parents went to a local spa. I didn't want any treatment and neither did my sister, so we sat on plastic chairs with our feet hovering slightly above the floor due to the flood while the parents were pampered.
8. Cold, cold, cold. We had to heat the room with the vapour from the hot shower in the bathroom, and sleep with jeans, jackets and dirty socks (note to self: bring more socks next time and don't burn what you have with you)
9. For the first time ever in this country, the food sucked. It wasn't Sri Lankan food, per se - it was Chinese Sri Lankan food (we weren't given a choice here, it was either this or starve) I usually love Chinese food in Malaysia, and this wasn't even close. Sorry.
10. Watched a bit of local TV with really bad reception. Tried to read, but I couldn't due to all the shivering. How can anyone like the cold? The only person who enjoyed the cold was my mom.
11. We have to give credit to the place, though. It was a beautiful building and had really old decorations and beautiful flowers.

Real flowers. Don't ask me why the red seems pretty artificial.



12. The people of Sri Lanka love their trees.


13. More waterfalls on the way out.
14. Some poor kid was selling paintings to tourists so he buy shoes for school
15. Some local people come after you for money. It's one thing if they try to sell you stuff you don't need, but them asking for it outright made me very sad.

A Smoky Story

Some time ago, there was this episode on "How I Met Your Mother" in which all the characters were trying to quit smoking. Watching that episode (and comparing it with some much older movies/literature) it finally hit me how people's opinion on smoking and smokers have changed. What used to be normal way back is now viewed with some disdain. 

How else do you explain smokers being given a smoking bay where so many of them sit in cramped up spaces to get their fix AND inhale secondary smoke from their fellow smokers, or even while I was in Japan, where it seemed as though everyone smoked, they were forced to smoke in small groups at little ashtrays by the kerb - hardly a sociable activity, or in some areas, they stood in alleyways behind tall buildings in their nice clothes, smoking mournfully in the cold. 

The other day, the papers had a piece on new rules for cigarette manufacturers in terms of packaging size and pricing (among the methods employed to reduce young people from starting to smoke since they could never afford such an expensive hobby to start with) I've attached a screen-shot of the news below.
Click to enlarge


The thing is, while what the government is trying to do to protect the people from the dangers of smoking, little do they know that there are ways employed to manoeuvre around this minimum 20 sticks rule. Well, maybe they do, but they have probably decided to overlook it until someone brings it up. 

I've actually even witnessed this (ahem!) clever act by 2 separate entities. One was a few years ago at the canteen in my workplace where the canteen operator *sold individual sticks all the time to the guys at work, and the second time was just about 2 weeks ago while I was lining up to pay for my food at a nearby Mamak where one of the customers in front of me bought an individual stick from the cashier. So, if the young people the government is trying to protect can't afford 20 sticks in one go, who is to say they can't afford a single stick from a packet opened by some devious business people?

*This might be illegal (it is in the US, but I can't find info about Malaysia)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares: How to Avoid Unplanned and Unwanted Grammar Errors by Jenny Baranick

Eons ago, when I was a student in school, learning English as a second language (though spoken as a first language at home), I met a stumbling block in the form of grammar. Although using correct grammar was never a problem, explaining why I'd pick A over B when given an option between the two was a problem. Without a doubt, my English teacher would have labelled me annoying since I had the cheek to tell her I picked what I did because it 'sounds right'. I'd have been a much better student if I had this book in my grubby hands back then!

Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares: How to Avoid Unplanned and Unwanted Grammar Errors

If you're a follower of the blog that goes by the title Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares, you'll find that the posts explain grammar in a delightfully whimsical style. You'll never know what hit you until the end where you finally realise that you've been given an interesting lesson in grammar. You get an idea of how fun grammar can be just by checking out the title.

This book is an extension of the blog, and will be on sale on Amazon from the 15th of August. In these days where textspeak and truncated words rule and where punctuation is almost non-existent, this book may just help bring back the language to the state it's meant to be.

* Scheduled post

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Evidence Act: In Support of the Internet Blackout Day

"Guilty until proven innocent - if you can find a way to prove your innocence, that is. Ha ha ha ha"



The line above sort of sums up the newly ammended evidence act, where as the owner of a website, blog, e-mail address, facebook or twitter account or even as the owner of wifi connection that someone else is 'borrowing' because your password got hacked, you will be held responsible until you can prove that you're not the one responsible for whatever was posted. How you gather evidence is your choice, but if you can't then be prepared to get sued/go to jail/pay fines, etc. 

In view of this horrible development, the CIJ (Centre for Independent Journalism) is organising our very own Internet Blackout Day on the 14th of August. As I do use the internet for blogging, have various e-mail accounts, and use Facebook as well, plus the wifi connection is registered under my name, I think this is an extremely important cause and I'm in full support of the Blackout. 

So, if you're Malaysian and you use the internet, please join forces to get something done to this act immediately, and bring back "innocent until proven guilty" 

The details can be found here: http://stop114a.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/join-us-and-support-internet-blackout-day/

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Week that Was

It's been a long, long week. Deprived of the much needed mental effects coffee has on me (I'm not phasing coffee out of my life, but due to the fasting month and the fact that the rest of my office is filled with Muslims who are fasting, I have ceased mixing myself a cuppa in the afternoons out of respect for people who would have not had even a sip of water since 6:00 am) and the sudden influx of problems to be solved, I have been having problems sleeping well too. In the end, I'm tired, sleep deprived, irritable and have made zero progress in posting up anything here despite so many interesting things going on. 

Losing Hope on Our Only Gold Medal
I've never been a fan of watching sports on TV. I do watch the occasional football match, but I hate watching badminton. Nevertheless, I sat down and watched last night's men's badminton final on TV, because Malaysia was playing and there was a chance we could win a gold. We've never really been a country to be reckoned with when it comes to international sports, but badminton has always been something we could almost solidly count on. Despite our Malaysian player giving the match his all, he had to settle for the silver. Still, it was well fought match!

Time wasters
Over the weekend when I could have been doing something productive, (or sleep) I stumbled upon a website that subconsciously coerced me into browsing it for hours and hours. It's a treasure trove of all things from the past - old ads, to old magazine covers and photos of people, etc.  I thought I was alone in my insane addiction when I saw someone else's comment saying that he was addicted to the website too! I guess I'll only be happy once I've finished reading/seeing all their archives!


In support of small Independent Businesses
My sister and I went out for some Sunday afternoon book shopping near an aunt's place which is in a different town. We wanted to visit a small independent bookstore that sold a wide variety of hand-picked titles at more competitive prices than the common bookstore chains we have. We don't go there too often because of the distance, but when we do, we get a big pile of  books to fulfill several months of reading requirement. Besides, the owner, being a reader himself, gives you interesting book recommendations, and you can even request him to bring in a titles for you through the bookstore's Facebook page. 

Finding our way to the store in the mall though, we kind of ended up in a different wing and saw another independent book kiosk which had quite a few titles we grabbed in glee. 



Picking and then towing all the books (even between the two of us wasn't an easy task), and we decided to stop for some coffee or ice cream. Instead, after surveying the options, we decided to pick a frozen yoghurt stall that sold (ahem) frozen yoghurt. It's been a minor obsession of mine these past few months - ever since my sister introduced me to a local frozen yoghurt chain. We later found out that this particular frozen yoghurt stall was an independent establishment and that it was the owner of the stall itself who served us, while enquiring if there was a book sale around us after seeing our load of books.

The yoghurt was creamy and delicious and on top of that was free from artificial colouring. There was another woman who was sitting there, enjoying her frozen yoghurt and laughingly admitting to us that she thinks she is addicted to this stuff. I don't blame her. It was really, really good.  

Bookstore: Bookalicious (located in the Summit - USJ)

Frozen Yoghurt: Yogurtbar (also located in the Summit - USJ)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Save The Raintrees

They're centenarians, lined up along the road, providing shade against the sweltering afternoon heat, and giving wannabe photographers the opportunity to get good photos. Back in July 2010, I saw them in person during a visit to the Taiping Lake Gardens.

The other day, my mother told me that there was a big issue over some development plans for the Taiping Lake Gardens, in which these 120 year old raintrees may face a situation they have not faced in the past. The very next day, my favourite radio station interviewed a man who started a petition to stop the Taiping Municipal Council from going ahead with their plans of building kiosks at the area despite assurance that the trees will not be in immediate danger. The problem is, you can never tell with development -  what if greed gets in the way? According to the interview, the proposed kiosks will end up blocking the view of the lakes and I'm assuming that the aura of tranquillity which we get there now will be gone forever, as kiosks means people selling stuff (food/drinks/souvenirs) which will result in more people, noise and rubbish. 

I really don't understand why they always find the need to create business opportunities in places like this (fine, it's all about economic growth, but you can have economic growth elsewhere, right?) Do people constantly need to buy food and drinks while enjoying the view? 

News report here: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/26/nation/11732109&sec=nation

On the other hand, it seems as though people making noise about this whole thing has made the Municipal Council reconsider their plans. Sounds good to me. So far. 

Some pictures of the lake gardens and the trees I took while I was there:













Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Photo and A Quote

Dinosaur in the garden: Run!!!!

Failure teaches us that life is but a draft, a long rehearsal for a show that will never play - (Quoted from the movie Amelie)

Photo and quote are totally unrelated.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

They Brought A Water Gun to a Fight

A primary school/elementary level bad joke:

Teacher: What is the scientific term used for water?
Student: HIJKLMNO
Class: Ha ha ha 

Bad jokes aside...

There has been talk earlier this year that the state I live in will be facing a severe water shortage by 2014 unless the state government allows the federal government to go ahead with their plan of building a new water treatment plant. The state government insists that we do not need a new water treatment plant as reducing the current wastage from the present operational water treatment plants will actually be able to cover the projected shortage.

Enter SYABAS, the private water concessionaire who is in charge of the distribution of treated water who shamelessly suggested that water should be rationed from now to prevent the acute water shortage. An article I read *here states that the previous government left behind a very complicated system where water is treated by several different companies, while Syabas is in charge of distribution. Based on what I can see/read, the whole system is inefficient, where potential to **leak is high. There's plenty of room for improvement with the current facilities, and before even thinking of getting new facilities, the wise move will be to upgrade and increase efficiency of what we have at the moment. It's common sense.

What annoys me the most about this matter is the way the current state government is being accused by the mainstream media of being the bad guys who will lead the people of the state I live in to a world where clean water will be unavailable. To make things worse, you have public water rationing pleas by companies like Syabas, which seems to be private only in name and not in practice. The latest news on the other hand states that the federal government in trying to intervene with forming a committee to dig deeper into this water issue - but guess what, this committee does not have any representatives from the state government. There has been statements issued by various groups requesting non-politicising of the water crisis, but take a look at what's happening in the papers (mainstream media) and you can see that this is an all out war considering that the general elections are kind of just around the corner.

Another article: http://malaysiansmustknowthetruth.blogspot.com/2012/07/water-crisis-or-crisis-of-corruption.html

*The site has plenty of good articles because it extracts stuff from the local papers, but it has too
 many pop up ads.
** water and $$$

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So, a vending machine company that dispenses toothbrushes and oral hygiene products thought that it was appropriate to post a comment on my blog post about vending machines dispensing sweet drinks.

Interesting...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Road to Nowhere (Out of Kandy)

Continued from here



It is said that out there in this world (and maybe beyond) there are 6 other people who look somewhat like us. A doppelgänger of sorts. They may be of a different gender, or of a different nationality, but you might someday be walking on the streets of Taipei and think to yourself... "hey that person looks like (insert name of female friend here whom you're sure is back wherever you came from), but it's a he!"

My family met a not-so-favourite-uncle's doppelgänger in Sri Lanka. The similarity wasn't just physical. He even spoke like him, wore similar glasses my uncle would have used when he was in his late twenties while wooing my aunt (in the mid to late 80's) and bossed people around just like my uncle. The similarity was freaky but kind of hilarious at the same time (Come to think of it, I should have discreetly taken a video of this man and showed it to my uncle's kids just for laughs) 

Due to the rain (I'm so sorry, I know I sound like some mad raving lunatic complaining about the rain in every given post, but there's a reason) there was a landslide blocking our path out of the hotel. So after a wonderful breakfast of everything we trooped out to meet our guide when we were suddenly face to face with Mr. Doppelgänger, one of the hotel staff. He insisted that we shouldn't walk in the direction we were headed (we had made plans with our guide to meet at the lobby) as there was a landslide and we'll have to wait till they cleared it up. Will these string of weird happenings haunt us till the end?
Just my luck. The moment I wanted to take a picture of ppl cleaning up the rubble is the very moment our guide decides that he should step on the accelerator.

The road out of Kandy led us to a gem lapidary. I was glad that they had a little museum exhibit and a model of a mine where darkness enveloped you before they decided to try to sell some gems to you. I'm not that big on jewellery, but the rest of my family actually got themselves some stuff. Meanwhile, I was more interested in this....

Fossils!

 This was the last stop in Kandy. 


Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Which I Crawl onto the Smartphone Bandwagon

After an unexpected quest for a Sony mp3 player and an enthusiastic (and almost obsessive) research for a rugged phone, I have finally crawled onto the smartphone bandwagon with a Sony (Ericsson) Xperia Active. 
July 2012

I liked it the moment I saw it on the Sony site, and I knew that I wanted it. It is dust and water proof, can handle tracking with wet fingers and was built to withstand abuse. It isn't the newest phone on the block. Released towards the end of last year, there were only two units left in the country (according to the store I went to) and I had to book a set and wait for them to send it to the store nearest to me. I got them to do so, and they called me yesterday afternoon. By 10:00 pm last night, the phone was in my grubby hands.

As I was checking out the phone and setting it up to my liking, I suddenly realised that it has been 12 years since I've been using mobile phones, and how they've changed over the years, both in function and appearance. I still remember my first phone. *My parents had given it to me in my 3rd year in university (June 2000), much to my horror. I had 2 years of freedom before they found a way on how to keep tabs on me. It was an Alcatel Movistar which looked like a banana from the side and only knew Spanish. After awhile, I did like it, but then disaster struck. I got pick pocketed and the phone got stolen. Until I graduated in October 2002, I ended up using my dad's Alcatel. 

The second Alcatel decided to die on me on the very day I moved out of university. I had applied for some jobs and missed an interview for a job because they couldn't get through my phone. I was miserable for weeks (well, maybe years considering that I still can remember the incident so well, ha ha)

2000 - 2012
Later on in November 2002, with the small bit of balance I had from my student loan, I got myself a Nokia 3310 - which has recently been labelled the Chuck Norris of mobile phones. It was durable and withstood all my abuse for years and years. The only reason why I ever gave it up was because after the original battery had died out, the replacement battery started giving problems. I'd suddenly find myself without a connection. By that time, I had begun to rely on the phone as a way out of trouble. I had some car trouble around that time and constantly worried that I'd need to call for help if I got stranded and what would I do if my phone suddenly didn't want to work. So I ended up upgrading to the Nokia 6610 in June 2006.

I think the Nokia 6610 was one of the phones that I used for the longest time. Although by the time I was coerced into giving it up, the numbers on the keypad had faded and was sunken in, I still loved it to bits. The only reason I finally agreed on buying a new phone that would support 3G was because I was being sent to Japan for a 3 week course and needed some form of communication back home. The 6610, as decent as it was for use under the Malaysian sun was too outdated for the likes of Japanese service providers even if it was just for roaming.

So, at the end of September 2009, just a week before my flight to Japan, in search of my very first 3G phone, I picked a Sony Ericsson K770i. I think I loved it instantly and wondered why I had ever put up with Nokia and their policy of selling cables for connecting to your computer separately instead of together with the package. It took a bit of getting used to, and I loved the fact that I had a cybershot camera in hand and could take any pictures I wanted if my actual camera got full. I could also listen to music. I even could blog from it if I wanted to, but never did. It worked well for a long time and the battery is still good. It even took my abuse without much trouble until recently when we needed some duct tape to intervene and help us solve the damage from the abuse. Service was ended with mixed feelings on 13 July 2012.

* I just realised what a terrible daughter I must have been.

+All the phones I got were slightly "old" by the time I bought them. I don't know why this is, but it seems like a common trend with me. Now, Sony Ericsson doesn't exist anymore since the full takeover by Sony, but I somehow managed to get hold of a Sony Ericsson in my search for the perfect rugged phone.

Friday, July 13, 2012

On Science

Over my sandwich and a steaming mug of coffee during my lunch break, I often unwind by reading science articles and blogs on Discover Magazine. There, I've openly admitted my pseudo-geek and nerd-like tendencies on this blog for all to see. 

A few weeks ago, there was an uproar among the scienctific community that had nothing to do with the Higgs Boson. Everyone was talking about a certain promotional video that was released by the EU to encourage young women to get involved in science. Turns out, the scientific community found the video extremely distasteful that I had to watch it for myself. Here it is, below.




To be honest, if I was a young girl on the brink of deciding between arts or science as my future career, I don't think this video would sway my final decision towards science. I thought it was shallow on the whole, like a comment a lab assistant once gave me a long time ago when I first started working. I have long nails most of the time, but it's not because I keep them long for beauty purposes (a manicurist might cry if she sees my hands), but because I always seem to forget to clip my nails. I was removing paint from my fingers at the sink in the lab and had trouble removing the bit under my nails. He looked at me and remarked that we work in a paint factory and not in a lipstick factory. Whatever was that supposed to mean? All I knew is that is was the shallowest and most sexist comment I've heard in a long time. Many men keep their nails long too. 

I understand that there are probably less women scientists than there are men, but is the shortage of women actually really caused by the fact that  they can't wear pretty clothes or can't use make up at work?  

Or are there other underlying factors such as the lack of opportunities to get hired because they are women and are expected to *get married and 'go and have babies someday'. What if the woman had a professor tell her it's not worth it going into research as she's a woman (long hours and no time for herself) and advised her to teach instead because that would suit her better? Or what if she really, really just isn't interested?

*My friend who did Chemical Engineering with me back in uni had this said to her when she was being interviewed for a job.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We Could be Heroes

If there was an Olympic medal for worrying, I'd probably win gold. Adrian Mole said something like this in one of his diary entries, and I personally think I could win if I competed against him. After all, I'm real while he's (ahem) fictional. :P

One of the few things I'm currently worried about is the fact that I think I find quite a bit of things which people generally do not find funny to be rather funny. It's not a new development, though. I've been doing this for years - and if you're interested, there's a label called "funny stuff" at the sidebar of this blog. 

Of late, just as the government declared under a certain transformation program that the number of crimes have reduced due to the efforts of the program, the reality of the situation is the complete opposite. People in my neighbourhood had their houses robbed by thieves who carried weapons, my boss had her house broken into, a woman was assaulted in an elevator in a shopping mall, a woman was carjacked and almost got raped but she was clever enough to save herself and live to share her story, a 52 year old woman on a motorbike almost got her bag in the basket snatched when a man riding another bike tried to rob her - but she gave him a punch and saved herself from being part of the statistics. There are so many other stories of crimes around us, and some of them never even make it to our papers. Oh, and just the other day, 2 katana wielding people managed to gain entry outside the Prime Minister's Department. What they were doing there, brandishing their swords, no one really knows. But seriously, Prime Minister's Department? Katanas? In broad daylight? How did they get there? Where did the katanas come from? Is it weird that I find it funny?

I wanted to buy one of these while I was in Japan. Ended up getting a keychain shaped like a katana instead.

I suppose when all these crimes get publicised, someone decides that it's time they said something. I first heard this news on the radio this morning in the car before I had to go into the office. Apparently, someone (who thought they had to chip in their 2 cents) has called out martial arts experts to play a role in combating crimes in their local areas! For some reason, I laughed - a real laugh out loud kind of laugh, where I slapped my hands against the steering wheel. Seriously, self defence versus parang wielding criminals? The idea is just too insane. 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Mystery of The Disappearing Book

When I was a kid, I always had my nose buried in one of Enid Blyton's mystery stories. When I was done with those, I graduated to Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and The 3 Investigators.

Now I have a mystery to solve all on my own. (Admittedly, they had more interesting mysteries which involved hiding in cars and spying on people and having their own tree houses as HQ for their top secret meetings, whilst mine is...)

A slim, blue jacketed copy of Wuthering Heights has somehow incredibly disappeared right under my nose. I know that maybe two years from now, I might find it hidden in the fridge or something and laugh and probably blog about it, but for now it's missing. 

I've turned my book cupboards inside out twice, searched other cupboards, searched in travelling bags, in my car and anywhere else books may take a fancy to hide themselves. So, now, despite promising my sister that I could lend my copy to her friend who expressed some interest in reading the book after he was introduced to a song of the same name, I'm of the opinion that I might be unable to fulfil that promise. I've reached a point where I thought that I'd just get a new copy and lend that to him. If I find my original copy, then he gets a free book, if I don't then he can return this copy when he's done - which leads me to the second mystery. 

The two bookstores I visited this week didn't have any copies with them!

So, Wuthering Heights - where art thou hiding?


Friday, July 06, 2012

The Tooth Relic Temple

Continued from Kandy Part 2.

The view outside

Adventures whilst trying to check out the tooth relic. To be honest, I didn't see a thing, and had no idea what I was supposed to see!
The final activity for the night was the visit to the tooth relic temple in Kandy. I don't know why, but probably it was because of all the driving around, we were all really tired and hungry by then. Nevertheless it was only 6:30-ish pm and we still had quite a bit to see. Now, even though we took a customised tour with a tour guide, his job was mainly to drive us around. He subcontracted us to guides from the respective tourist destination all the time. This time we were in the hands of a slightly elderly man who gave us quite the tour. He reminded me of a disciplinary teacher.

Unfortunately due to the importance of this tooth (or some other reason that we never quite understood) we were required to take off our shoes/slippers, go in through a room where were patted down for weapons and had our bags checked. No weapons in sight, they let us in - barefooted. 

The temple of the tooth relic was quite beautiful. After walking around with us and explaining everything he could as quickly as possible (and even forcing us to take photos in certain areas which you were compelled to obey due to his strict disciplinary teacher personality) he forced us into a line, citing how lucky we were to be there at that very moment because the doors were going to be open. The whole problem I had with this is that he led me right into the middle of a line where people had been lining up for minutes/hours? I felt terrible being put in a spot that way. It wasn't important for me to see the tooth when it was opened to the public. These people lining up there could be real believers who might have made their way there in hopes of seeing that elusive tooth, and there I was being put in the middle of the line behind my family (My parents had joined the line earlier while I was at another side taking pictures like he suggested)

When the doors were closed, we moved on to another side of the temple, was given a explanation on the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and also brought to a display of all the statues of Buddha donated by various countries and organisations. It reached a point where I thought I could fall asleep standing when he finally announced that it was time to leave. He ushered us out back to the shoe rack (no case of stolen shoes here, I think), and back to where the van was waiting for us. It was an interesting visit, though, and the temple's guide did a pretty awesome job. It was only tiredness that got in the way. 

It was dinner at the hotel after that. And there was a 3 man, 1 woman band playing old country music to all of us eating there. Dinner (as all food in Sri Lanka) was awesome.

Back in the hotel room, my sister and I almost became pyromaniacs. (Funny story, really)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Kandy (Part 2)


After the delicious spice laden lunch at the spice garden restaurant, we drove on even more to the town of Kandy and checked in to our hotel, which was on top of a hill. That itself may be a clue on the hotel's actual name.

Kandy is what I'd call a town, where there were more streets, shops and lots of vehicles on the road compared to Sigiriya. However, with our hotel being on the hill as it was, we didn't really feel like we were in a town. In fact, we were told to not open the windows because there were monkeys who would pay you unexpected visits. And they're always not the best behaved of guests.

The Cultural Dance
After getting our rooms at the far end of the hotel, we napped and then freshened up and headed out again to town. We had our first cultural experience of the visit here, at a cultural dance show held in a hall. I'm not a fan of dances (neither as a dancer myself, nor as a spectator), but I did think they gave a very good performance. The dance was a series of performances telling different stories of the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. I've misplaced the program paper (no surprise there) but even if it were in my hands, I think I'd spare you all (and myself) from dreary details. Instead, I'll share something my sister and I observed. 

So, in the dance troupe, there was this really tall girl with an awesome midriff, washboard abs and all. We nicknamed her the 'hot girl' and there was also this guy who was tall. They both kind of stood out among the dancers, somehow and we noticed that they occasionally made eye contact with each other, like they both shared some interesting secret about something. I'd have love to have found out what it was.



3 gloomy looking pictures because of my camera settings. They had very interesting costumes, though.

This was one of the more interesting aspects of the dance where the dancer spins the plate on the pole and finally balances it on his forehead

The dance ended about an hour after that and we all went out for the finale, where they walk on fire (or was it charcoal) It was crowded (tourist season in Sri Lanka apparently) and could be a prospective fire hazard if things got out of control. Good thing they didn't. Oh, and when it's all actually over, you're also expected to give some tips.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Kandy (Part 1)

Day 2. Continued from here

A few years back (5, maybe) a (then) random stranger who commented on my old blog told me that he didn't blog because he figured that by the time he got up to posting a post about a certain topic, the topic would have lost all relevance. Today, as I sat in front of the computer, intending to blog about a certain incident that happened recently, I realised that it has lost all relevance. Nevertheless, I am saved by the fact that travel posts may still hold some relevance even though they are more than a year late. At least I hope so. 



We left Sigiriya for Kandy, which was another long, long drive through the *unanticipated rain. Now, as mentioned in the very first post, the people in this trip were my parents, my sister and I, all full grown adults, all equally stubborn and short tempered (except for my mom - she's only stubborn, but not as quick tempered as the rest of us) I mention this only because it may explain what I might decide to write in the next few paragraphs. 

Not too far into our journey we drove in through a gate where there were lots of cars parked, which resulted in us being unable to get a parking spot. I had no idea what this place was (the guide was not very chatty like other guides we've met in other places), and my dad asked me to get down and take a picture of the building behind it because it was raining. Me being blur as I was, duly got down in the rain, took the picture and then we drove off without any question. Looking back, that was a bad move. What was that place and why just take a picture and not go inside? 

Sometime later, we ended up in a wood work shop. Having been to Indonesian wood work shops before, I thought the stuff here was rather similar and couldn't think of anything I'd like to buy. However my parents thought it was the best place they've been to in the whole itinerary (at least I thought they thought that) There was no way prying them off the displays of the shop. They got excited at the sandalwood powder, and a host of other things. It's one thing if they just bought what they wanted straight away, but they didn't. They made at least a few rounds before deciding to get just one small item! My sister and I got annoyed and left the shop hoping that the parents will realise that they've been in there for far too long, but it didn't work. So my sister and I decided to converse with our non-chatty guide who was also waiting outside about the Dambulla Caves (one of the Unesco heritage sites) which we're supposed to visit. 

Guide: We already passed it just now. 
Me/Sis: Huh, when? Why didn't we stop? 
Guide: We did. It's where you took the picture.  

Dambulla Caves :(

Apparently, towards the front of the van (while my sis and I were sitting at the back, oblivious to what was going on) my dad had remarked that it was OK if we didn't stop at Dambulla Caves and the guide had taken his word for it despite the fact that it was in the itinerary and the fact that the people who took the effort to plan the trip (me and my sis) were not consulted. How could they?! 

 This was followed by a long and drawn out argument between us and my dad after we all got seated in the van. If the guide was feeling uncomfortable at all this (our argument was in English, and even if it were not, our voices would have given it away) he didn't show it.

 The next stop was a spice garden in Matale. As expected, even with umbrellas, you can't help getting wet in a spice garden. Nevertheless, due to the rain, the temperature was cool enough for us to walk around without too much discomfort. Though Malaysian cooking uses quite a bit of spices, we don't really get to see the plants where these spices come from unless they're local, so I thought this was one of the more interesting places though I didn't take much photos except for the cocaine plant. Ahem. Towards the end, we were given some hot spiced tea, and ended up buying a whole lot of stuff from their little store. We had lunch at the restaurant in the spice garden itself where they cook with the spices from the garden (I'm just saying, but it makes sense, I think)

The Cocaine Plant

 *Though unanticipated, rain is a recurring theme throughout the vacation in Sri Lanka.

Friday, June 29, 2012

AN EPIPHANY ON EPIPHANIES

An epiphany hit me this morning while I was in the shower. I recall groaning at how ridiculous the whole thing was but as much as I try to recall the exact epiphany (which had a really nice ring to it), I can't. A "doesn't sound as good as the original" version is: 

Epiphanies only hit you when you're unable to do much about it, after which your mind carelessly shoves it aside to tell you to concentrate on what you're doing instead. It then forgets to save it, nor will you be able to 'auto-recover' it from the depths of your brain. Or even if you do, it's just fragments of the real thing and doesn't seem as solid anymore.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HAZY POETRY

The haze is back,
Just our luck,
Grey skies abound,
All you can see is the ground,
And nothing above a 12 foot rack!

The forest is on fire,
Definitely not burning with desire,
I'm not sure about the peat
But if you think about the heat
It burns the quagmire

A sorethroat has come knocking,
I wear a striped red stocking
Oh! There goes the wind
The sun saying hi from behind
Adieu! I'm going spelunking


The haze arrived some time ago (I can't remember when exactly), but I was thinking this morning about how the blurry skyline looks like there is a mist shrouded in mystery until it assaults your nose from all directions.

I wrote the 'poetry'  waaaay back in 2006. Some things are just there for rhyming purposes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Medium Sized Conspiracy

If clothes maketh a man, does clothes size maketh a woman?

Perhaps. Why else would some of us chase the coveted but almost unattainable size 0? Unattainable sizes aside, here's something I came to realise in July last year (yes, this post has been pending for almost a year) but never managed to get the contents into the blog editor until I was clearing out my drafts and saw this title, and some inspiration from Pat Hatt's post on conspiracy theories

See, between July and August every year, we receive a form with our names on it with a few columns to tick (shirt size and pants size among others), and every year since they introduced the new uniform, I've been ticking on size M. I figured you'll be on the safe side of not putting on too much weight if you maintain your uniform size throughout your working years. Turns out, this isn't particularly true.

It's been awhile since the new uniform and the new sizing came into effect. I have three different sets from 3 different years so far, all sized M only in theory, but when you actually use them, the ones from 2009 are slightly smaller than the set from 2010, and the set from 2010 are slightly smaller than the set from 2011 (there's a slight difference in the sleeves which enables me to differentiate which uniform belongs to which set - plus the fact of how worn out they look) 

Size M throughout the years


My love for conspiracy theories went into overdrive, and I figured (for some unfathomable reason) that someone out there (the tailor??) was trying to fool you into thinking you've not gained too much weight to be still able to wear the same size you did three years ago. I checked around with others, but only a few others noticed the difference in size. I was trying out to figure out why, and then one day as I was browsing through the net some time ago searching for size conversions I came across what they call "Vanity Sizing" Ahem. So much for conspiracy theories unless you consider the very idea of vanity sizing as yet another conspiracy theory.

Who Let My Number Out??

As much as I love technology (and as much as it doesn't love me back, alas), I have to admit that I loathe the cellphone. It's useful no doubt - it's helped me get un-lost when I got a friend on the phone to help me out of a wrong turn, it allowed me to call for help when I needed help, and it facilitates the online payments I make through my bank's online banking services by texting me the top secret codes that allow me to do so. At the same time however, I also am at the receiving end of a slew of rubbish, from salesmen calling me to sell me insurance I don't need, strange messages asking me to watch some sexy dance by a hot (insert name of neighbouring country here) dancer, to some messages from the government, one which annoyed me endlessly was when they sent me wishes for the New Year earlier this year.

The other day, I received a message, this one from an *independent research company asking me if I thought the current state government (PakRa) or the current state opposition (BeeNd) (which is the Federal Govt) would 'bring back the glory of the state' in the next elections. It also said that only 1 sen would be charged for my answer. I haven't answered them because I think that your vote ought to be a secret, but another part of me thinks that maybe I should just mess with them and answer who I'd rather not vote for....

*Independent research company, yeah right. With a phrase like 'bring back the glory of the state', it doesn't take too many braincells to figure out whose side they are on. For those of you outside of Malaysia, the elections of 2008 led PakRa into ruling the state I live in from the very first time from BN who have ruled the state for decades. This theory on how un-independent the research coompany is was proven one day later when the same number sent me another text promoting a concert organised by BeeNd near where I live.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Run Terra, Run

About two months ago, I went ahead and did something quite crazy. I signed up for a local 5.5 km run through the social and sports club of my workplace. Now while running itself is not usually associated with being crazy, for me it was because I used to detest running while I was young and in school. I dreaded the yearly cross country event we had to take part in and would walk the whole 1.5 km and pretend I conquered the world at the end of it. I never had the stamina nor the interest to run for the sake of running (I didn't mind running around while playing hockey though) I was also always prone to my sides aching after putting in some effort in running. So, it was a BIG thing for me to sign up for this run, which was a competition, and definitely would have real runners competing as well.

I immediately started focusing on running in the gym. I tried building stamina by running for as long as I could. The first day, I jogged for about 15 minutes, brisk walked for about 5 minutes, then jogged again for another 15 and then walked for about 10. I covered about 4.5 km that day and went back with swollen feet. I was not deterred, though - I took a one day break and tried again the following day. I tried running about 3 times a week in the gym and while I could last longer jogging (I graduated from 15 minutes to 30 minutes in about 3 weeks or so), I didn't have enough stamina to last one whole hour. 

I was about to head out onto the roads for trial runs, but I unfortunately met with an accident. Although I was physically fine, I met with a mental block. I thought I'd be back on my feet in a week or so, but I allowed the mental block to fester and hardly did any running or practice. I looked at the calendar with nonchalance as the days flew by, but panic greeted me as June arrived. June 10th was the day I'd run along the streets of this town I grew up in. It was the day I'd have to give my all. Towards the end, I only had 2 objectives:

1. Finish the race within the qualifying time
2. To not embarrass myself (by fainting, or worse - coming in last!)

June 10 arrived. Not being familiar with how runs are handled, I arrived just in the nick of time to register (which means dumping my card into a box for the lucky draw later) I didn't know they had a warm up session, otherwise I'd have gone much earlier. At 6:45 am they flagged off the 12 km runners. At 7:00 am, the 5.5 km runners were flagged off. We jogged, ran and walked along the race route, the 5.5 km feeling like the longest distance I've ever had to take on foot. Towards the last 1 km or so, the 12 km serious runners started overtaking the non-serious runners of the 5.5 km. Nevertheless, I reached the finish line in 45 minutes, and had no reason to feel embarrassed over anything. Objectives achieved. On top of that, I received a finishing medal and a certificate. I have a weird feeling that I'll be participating in more runs after this!

The bib, the finishing medal and a goody bag



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Where Ideas for Unwritten BlogPosts Converge

Otherwise known as the random post.

I was in the midst of trying to fall asleep when I was bothered by the urge to violently sneeze. Eyes watering, I sneezed like there was no tomorrow. By the time I was done, my eyes were still itching, and whatever sleepiness that had manifested earlier was also gone. I had two options, read or blog. 10 points for anyone who can guess which option I picked ;)

On reading materials
I'm trying my best to read A Clockwork Orange, a book which seems to be in a lot of people's good books. Ha ha. I'm finding it an extremely difficult read, though and it's not because I have to learn a whole new language to actually get it. That's the least of my problems - I actually had fun trying to guess some of the words.  I can't seem to explain it, but the book just doesn't interest me as much as it should. 

On another note, I recently downloaded The Golden Bough from Project Gutenberg. Interestingly, I came across the book being mentioned twice - once in The Folklore of Discworld  some time ago (after which I downloaded the book) and more recently in Night Shift - short stories by Stephen King (after which I thought I'd start reading it) It's long - 1313 pages using the e-reader I use, and what I thought was hilarious is that in the beginning of the book, the author tells us that it's an abridged version!
 
The Golden Bough by Turner - source wikipedia
On blogs
As though being an author in this blog all by myself and being a co-author in another blog wasn't enough, I have recently agreed to being a co-author in yet another blog. So far I haven't had any brilliant ideas on what to post there as a first post (The first post is always important to set things in motion, methinks, but then, I could also just jump in the middle and throw in whatever comes to mind) My friend has posted a bit so far, though... you can visit the blog here: http://thepaintedguitar.com/ if you so wish. 

Other Stuff 
a. I have a serious addiction to this game called Tetris Battle (which you can play through Facebook and all your friends can know how you suck at it) I stayed up twice till the wee hours in the morning getting my fix this week. 

b. I wrote an e-mail at work describing a test I did and threw in a basic scientific term, basically to show that 'Hey, I've considered the possibility of this error and have eliminated it' Someone who received a carbon copy of the email thought throwing in the scientific term was 'cute'. That's a first. 

c. So my current phone, a 2009 Sony Ericsson is kind of on it's last legs. It's my fault, really,  for not protecting it from my careless fingers and violent ways that it falls down to the floor almost every single day. The keypad is being stubborn and typing texts is bothersome (I need to use texts to communicate with my boss when she needs info while she's in a meeting) and it recently took to pretending my SIM card doesn't exist. I was thinking of a new phone - and I don't really care if it's a smart phone or something a bit more basic. Any recommendations?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet Seduction

"Whatever you do, Terra..." he paused for dramatic effect, taking another sip of his canned iced lemon tea "don't ever buy anything from that machine"

"Why not?" I asked, my fingers smoothing the creases of the RM 1 note which I had extricated from the mess in my pocket with the intention of using it to get something from the vending machine for the very first time. 

"I'm now on my third can for the day" he said, raising his can in his right hand. He took another sip. "It's crazy. Hear that sound?" he asks.

I nod my head.

"They're refilling the machine now. After this there'll definitely be guys lining up to get themselves a can or two. It's like everyone's addicted. Did you know the machine needs to be refilled every two days?" 

Vending machines and I had a very interesting relationship while I was in Japan
This *conversation happened over two weeks ago when I had asked B who sits opposite me in the office if the vending machine downstairs accepted RM 1 notes. It apparently does.

Since I've always been able to exercise self control to a certain extent, I didn't worry too much about B's sugar high filled laments about the seductive effects of the vending machine. Besides, I was planning to work **late that day and didn't like the idea of doing so with an empty stomach, giving the opportunity to over-excited gastric juices to launch an attack. So, I went downstairs, B's words still ringing in my ears and picked the healthiest drink I could find - apple juice. 

The next evening saw me at the vending machine again. As I scanned what they had, I spotted Mountain Dew and mindlessly pressed the button.  Mind you, I wasn't planning on leaving work late that day. I was there again the day after that, a can of iced lemon tea for myself and a Mountain Dew for my sister. The weekend came and saved me from further damage for slightly over a week.

Yesterday, I succumbed to the machine's charms once again. In my defense, I had to pass by it several times as I speed-walked between my building and the next doing my job (Note: If you want a job that can actually keep you fit, get a job as a process engineer in a Japanese company) Finally, after all that speed-walking, I saw B with yet another can in the evening and I decided to get myself a can of iced lemon tea.

As I sit ***writing this, all thoughts are on that machine and it's sweet seduction.

*Conversation was in the Malay language. I may have dramatised it a bit for effect, but the gist of it is the same. B is still addicted to 3 cans a day till today. 
** late in this post means leaving work after 8 pm. 
*** Yes, I actually wrote this post on a piece of paper using a pencil. As I'm typing this, I'm proud to announce that I did not go near the machine today.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Runaround

It's been almost 3 weeks since the incident involving the rogue lorry and 22 other vehicles. I thought it would be all over by now, and Kets (that's how I call my car, although his full name is actually Ketsbaia) would be with me right now, but apparently that is not the case. The damage done was far worse than anyone had initially anticipated and it turns out that the one of the major repairs require some sort of approval from the Road Transport Department (RTD)

Earlier this week, the agent who was in charge at the workshop handling my repairs called and said that I have to go and swear an oath at the RTD (this was literally translated from 'angkat sumpah kat Puspakom). Having never met with an accident before and not knowing anyone else who's been in such a situation, I honestly thought I'd have to sign the form and swear in front of the RTD officer. Turns out, that's not how it's done. You take the forms to a commissioner of oaths, get his (it's always an old man) signature, a few stamps here and there and then you submit the forms to RTD to approve. Two weeks later (after all, the RTD is a *government agency and is prone to extreme sluggishness) they'll apparently call you and tell you it has been approved (or not) and then only you can take your car to them for a physical/roadworthy test. If everything is good, then you get your car back. If not, I really don't even want to think about it.

I could only get yesterday off, and duly went to get the forms from the office at the workshop. The agent's boss gave me the required forms and told me what to do. She also said that the RTD officers had the tendency to reject the application at times citing incomplete documentation and added a few more papers to the pile she'd given me earlier. My dad (who kindly drove me there) asked her why didn't the shop runners do it, and she said they could, but it would require extra payment. I figured that it wouldn't be too difficult to do it ourselves and therefore took the forms and left. Besides, I had taken the whole day off and thought it'd be a waste to get someone else to do what seemed to be quite a straightforward task.

I was dead wrong, though. The Commissioner of Oaths was efficient. He signed my form immediately and I was on my way to the RTD within a few minutes. About half an hour later, we finally reached the RTD and went looking for the correct building to submit my form. It was a Friday and it was already 11:20 by then. Government offices close at 12:15 (officially) on Fridays to cater to the Friday prayers, but someone who was pointing us towards the correct building told us that by 11:45, they kind of unofficially stop working. After walking quite a bit and almost submitting the form to the wrong counter (the accident cases have a different building, I was told by the wrong counter dude), we finally found the correct counter. He took my forms, made a comment about my small signature, and then told me the forms were incomplete. My heart fell. It really did. I tried using my rusty girlish charms (I usually don't need it, and try my best to not use it because I want to be taken seriously) but he said that he could accept it, but his boss would definitely reject it.

He made a comment about how the workshop should 'know better' than to send me with incomplete documents. I called the lady at the workshop to tell her what extra things he needed and she said that what she gave was already complete. It was, but he just wanted extra stuff. And then understanding dawned.

I decided that I'd use the services of the workshop runners and went back to give them my incomplete documents and paid up the required amount for the services, RM200 (roughly 64 USD) There was no receipt for this amount. The person in charge of my documentation shrugged and said that many of those who chose to submit the documents themselves have complained that their submission was rejected by the RTD due to incomplete documentation, whereas the same documentation if sent through a runner was immediately accepted.

Now, while I don't have an issue paying for good services, I don't see why we need to pay for someone else to do a job which you can do yourself. Submitting a form is easy enough, and with the documentation given by the workshop, everything should have been accepted immediately. I hate to say this, but I don't think I'd be too far off to point out that the reason there's no receipt for runner services is that the money gets split around to allow a smoothness in the flow which wouldn't be there otherwise. Hence their higher success rate compared to individuals who thought they could do it on their own. It's so sick that everyone just accepts that they have to use the services of the runners to get things done, and they do it. Government agencies are so used to runners, that when you opt out of the so-called system, they give you a runaround until you succumb to it as well. I could have argued that the documentation was sound, but what if they held it against me and purposely took ages to approve my car just to spite me for fighting back? We, as the citizens of this country are allowing such things to happen right under our noses!

This is the only running around I'm willing to do. Thank you very much.
Anyway, I was wondering, since quite a number of you are from different countries. Do you have to deal with third parties handling stuff for you when dealing with government agencies in order to get them done? Or if you're Malaysian (or not), have you been in a similar situation?  I'm curious, is this a local problem, or one that is universal.

*So far, I think only the Inland Revenue Board is the most helpful and efficient government agency, but that also could be due to the nature of what they're handling - taxes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Most Unlikely Hacker in the World

When you know for a fact that something should only appear on your "wall" or "timeline" as they now call it, if and only if you were the one who put it there, wouldn't you almost have a heart attack when you see something you have no recollection of ever putting up there? Does it make it worse if the time that the something you have no recollection of putting up there ended up on your wall or timeline when you were positively sure you had no access to the internet? 

The answers are yes, and yes. And that is how I spent my lunch time panicking over the fact that I may have been hacked, thanks to a friend who commented on the link I supposedly liked on my wall. I replied to my friend's comment, and told him I might have been hacked, then I updated my status update with something to do with my fear of being hacked. I changed my password and then went back and deleted the offending link I supposedly 'liked'. What if it was something that would infect your PC once you clicked it? I didn't want any of my friends clicking it and then, saying "Damn, TerraShield gave me a virus and now I have to reformat my PC!" Naturally, when it comes to having to reformat their PC, they will probably use words that are much worse than "damn".

Meanwhile another friend responded to find out what had occurred, and yet another friend e-mailed me and gave some really good advise on how to rescue my system from suspected malwares, spywares and keyloggers. With that in mind, I told myself that by hook or crook, I was going to flush out all the offenders from my laptop tonight. 

I spoke to my sister later and told her how I suspected I had been hacked. She started laughing uncontrollably, and pointed out that our mother was the 'hacker'. Firstly, the link that I supposedly 'liked' looks like something my mom would read. Secondly, my mom uses my iPad to surf, and I must have forgotten to log off facebook on that device, and knowing how sensitive the touch screen is (embarrassing memories of accidentally clicking 'add as friend' on strangers comes to mind), it made perfect sense although this didn't occur to me at all - I had completely (and very inconveniently) forgotten about the iPad. I checked with my mom and she confirmed that she was online around 9-ish this morning and yes, she had been reading the article that I had 'liked'. I can't describe how relieved I was hearing that.

And now, we have a new funny story in the family. My mom, the unlikeliest hacker. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do I Have to Give this a Title?

The day begins. A brand new day, you tell yourself as you prepare to get to work. You hear a bit of an interesting conversation on the radio before more important things drag you away forcefully and you leave not knowing how the topic was concluded. You make a mental note to download the podcast with your new superspeed internet connection and almost brand new laptop when you get back home later that night.

Life goes on. The hours you spend solving problems you didn't create in the first place vanish with almost the blink of an eye. Soon, it's time to face the superspeed internet and your new laptop, but the mental note you made earlier stubbornly stays a mental note. So you lie down on the floor with the laptop and play Tetris Battle until you spend all your energy. Literally.

Repeat the cycle the next day.

*Edit: Mark mentioned something about being stuck in a rut in the comments below, so I thought I'd just add this video by one of my favourite 'current' bands.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

ADDICTED TO: Coffee or Caffeine?

Around two weeks ago, I almost went cold turkey on my daily dose of 2 cups of fully caffeinated(?) coffee no thanks to my sudden fear of having more cellulite than I think I can handle. Besides, I've already hit and crossed over the BIG 3-0, and although people whom I've just met mostly ask if I'm still studying (instead of where I'm working), it's still best to be on the safe side. I also figured I'd give giving up coffee a try because I had done something similar for almost three weeks back in 2009. This time, it lasted for merely a few days before everything went down the drain. Everything except for the coffee, that is.

After the unfortunate incident with my car last week, my coffee intake increased up to about 3 cups per day. I don't know why - maybe some subconscious part in me thinks that the extra coffee will make me feel better/healthier/more energised or something to that effect. Besides, without a car, I've also had to give going to the gym a miss (I'm not a fan of running in my neighbourhood - I've actually seen elderly neighbours take their daily morning walks with a good sturdy stick to ward off would be muggers,thieves and murderers) To be honest, I wasn't feeling all too good (mentally) after the accident although I don't think anyone I've interacted with actually noticed.

Earlier today, my sister put up a status update regarding her caffeine deficiency (she's been slightly more successful than me, I think, hence the deficiency) and as I sipped my coffee while reading her status update, it suddenly hit me: Are we actually addicted to the caffeine in the coffee or are we addicted to the coffee itself?

I'm beginning to think my addiction is towards coffee itself rather than the need for caffeine. See, I come from a family that used to have tea at least once almost every single day. In fact, right up till the end of 2010, I used to have some plain tea every morning for breakfast/brunch. I also used to sporadically take green tea whenever I bothered to remember that it has some benefits, but have stopped that as well for at least a year. Tea is now an almost endangered culture in my life and it's absence doesn't seem to have had much effect on my sanity. I actually dislike drinking Coke and Pepsi (although I do take them sometimes when I get my meals from McDonalds if I forget to change my order to something else being the dreamer that I am), but have never even considered getting addicted to either. I love chocolates but can go for weeks without craving them. I don't take energy drinks like Red Bull. But take away my coffee, and I feel like the day isn't complete.

So, to check out how far my theory can be used, I'm planning to go decaf while maintaining the rest of my lifestyle, although I will have to wait a bit before I can actually do it. Meanwhile, what do the rest of you think? Is it the need for caffeine, or the love for coffee itself?