Thursday, July 31, 2008

For The Little Girl A Mother Loves So Much

Adorable Farhah posing amidst colourful tulips. Picture courtesy of Julia.

A loving mother once said to me,
If she had a wish, that would surely be,
to have the clouds cushion her little girl to sleep,
with the rainbow dreams for her to keep.

Her wish list goes on to the very detail,
the love of a mother not to see her precious fail,
in the simplest of steps she may lead tomorrow,
let me the mother, harbour all the sorrow.

A love so true that is beyond compare,
So unique and special, only a mother and a daughter share.
Hand in hand, in cheers and in tears,
the mother cast away her worries and her fears,
knowing the little girl she once held in her palm,
will one day too, grow up and be a mum.

Till that day comes, she'll savour every moment,
of spoiling her and let lessons be learnt,
that love of a mother will keep her company,
for today, for tomorrow and for eternity.


These cupcakes were ordered by Julia, the loving mother all the way from Moscow. Read all about her stories of bringing up the little Farhah in the land of caviar, KGB, hundreds of museums, and big fur hats,

This poem is written for my daughter and also for all mothers and daughters out there. Julia, Mush, Kak Muna, this one is for you too.

Ps. Thanks Salina for introducing this song to me.

In My Daughters Eyes - Martina McBride
In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

Monday, July 28, 2008

Everyday Since...

I was left with a single 1 dollar NZ coin in the fist of my hand. Like any other coin, there are two parts of it with a different facet on each side. It wasn't special in any way but as ordinary as it may seemed, this coin encapsulated the state of mind I was stuck in. On one side it shouted out, "charge on! You've got cakes to do" but on the other it was fraught with "...let's just stay in this holiday mode, life is more than just cakes in one hand, icing in the other". Citing Hare "Juxtaposition is a very unsafe criterion of continuity" I bolted from that precarious zone of uncertainty and decided to choose the former instead of the latter. And here I am baking, still....

Whilst relating the NZ stories, orders were blinking away in my gmail. I accepted some but had to decline the rest due to the insufficient ingredients I had on my shelf. I was still in my holiday mode and forcing myself would probably result cakes that would only be consumed by the Joker in Dark Knight, demented in appearance.

The first week had me baking the regular chocolate cakes without any embellishments or colourful decorations. I missed the simplicity of slapping the chocolate fudge on the cakes, instead of wrecking myself to design all things beautiful on them. It's only normal to feel less beautiful on some days and extra gorgeous on others. But with cakes, you need to feel beautiful everyday or your creations would turn otherwise. And for that one week, yours truly was devoid from feeling anywhere close to the beautiful region. Hence, the deliveries of the regular looking chocolate cakes.

But, despair not and fret not, all things beautiful are just a blush away.

Here's a glimpse of cakes to come.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Random Thoughts And Shots

Saying goodbye to the Land of The Long White Cloud.

When my sis and I planned for this New Zealand trip, we had wished for it to be complete and comprehensive in exposing and educating our children the many facets of the country we were about to visit. We worked hard to make the very best of our 8 days there, fulfilling our wish list of places to go, scenery to see, culture to understand, fruits to sample and adventures to experience. We have included possibly every aspect of New Zealand, from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street, the exciting movie set, the interesting cave exploration, the breathtaking lakes, the tingle of snow, the mighty waterfall, the extreme sports, the animal farm, the Maori village, the kiwi bird park, the white sandy beach, the cute gondolas, the heart-racing luge and the fruit picking farm.

In view of our restrained budget, we opted for the less pricey accommodation and self-cooked meals. Everything had to tie in nicely for every one's limited budget and that was an extreme sport in itself. If there is anyone out there who would like to arrange a trip such as this and money is an issue, I would suggest touring in a caravan. It was difficult for us to take on the idea since we had aging parents with us, and a caravan would not suit them comfortably. Nevertheless, we were very pleased with all the motels throughout our journey especially The Settlers Motel in Turangi, the motel that harboured us after an evening of snow. I guess it was a personal favourite for everybody simply for it being quaint and cozy in every corner we set our eyes on. There was an attic in each unit, big enough for 4 kids, or three adults to snuggle up, a huge trampoline for the kids to do somersault on, bouncing their hearts out, a small playground and a laundry room which provided free use of the washing machine.

The attic

Boink! Boink!

Before this New Zealand entry dot its last full stop, I would like to share some of my favourite shots, some taken by me and the rest by my brother and brother in law.

The one thousand of words for each picture are yours to conjure up.

They found sea-shells on the seashore

The Harbour Bridge

The forbidden fruit

"I'm walking away, from the troubles in my life, I'm walking away..."

The call of Subuh

"Smile yeop, nanti depa tau kita takut"

"Born free, as free as the wind blows..."

That lonesome tree

"We're sliding, we're sliding but still smiling..."

"I'm too sexy for my shades, too sexy for my seat belt..."

The End
Leaving On A Jet Plane - Aerosmith

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Part 11 : Kiwied!

Under this shady tree we set our differences aside... "Hey I found that red fruit first, that's mine give it back!"

2 Hours before...

Wid and Wiz went up the hill,
to slide in a ball of water,
Wid rolled down made a lot of sound,
and wiz came tumbling together.

Abzorbed, anointed but a little bit giddy, Wid, Wiz and the Zobornaut family adjourned their way to the next stop of this tour. The piercing sun failed to lend the much needed warmth to this glorious day, only the bright rays managed to keep them company.

Rotorua left us contented with all our to-do-list boxes ticked and noted! The two night stay occupied us completely right from the gondola ride up to the luge to the Maori village visit. The bulk of our memory card had Rotorua file stamped on it. If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, imagine how much does a thousand pictures in our camera worth?

The following activity was something we looked forward to with mixed emotions. It was our second last day and the thought of leaving this beautiful country the next day placed us in a sweet sour mood. The two hour drive to Te Puke where Kiwi360 was located, had the whole entourage in a pensive gear. We tried to capture every sight, sound and olfactory which came available to us in our rented van. The clicks of our four cameras managed to capture all the scenic views, even the ordinary looking trees and bushes didn't escape our fancy.

Upon arrival, the friendly guide mentioned of how lucky we were to have the sun shining brightly in the sky. Days like these were much appreciated especially when the tour involved an outdoor itinerary. The guide invited us to hop on the KiwiKart to see first hand what Kiwi360 had to offer. Rows and rows of diffrent varieties of fruit plantations laid before our very eyes. This havenly garden, had fruit trees such as persimmon, apricot, oranges, fejoa, and of course the kiwis, green and gold versions on their sprawling land. The very first fruit tree that had us scattered onto the ground was the orange. We plucked and grabbed as many oranges we could carry and dropped them in our bags.if only we knew how sour they were! We have never come close to an orange tree before and to be present in between tens of them got us pretty excited.

"Common guys, pick as many oranges you can!" Tamak was speaking on behalf of wiz.

The guide called us back to the kart reminding us that we were primarily there for the Kiwi fruit and not the oranges. We hopped back and slowly karted to the kiwi orchard in a jiff. We were briefed on the facts and history of the kiwi fruit which interestingly triggered many questions from the floor. Questions regarding the planting, harvesting and right up to "...can we bring back some of the kiwis here back home" were answered amicably. Just in case you are wondering, the answer to the last question was a "yes" and the retort to it was followed by a thunderous "yay!"

"Ada dua jenis buah kiwi disini, iaitu kiwi hijau yang biasa tu dan kiwi gold. Anda bolehla memetik seberapa byk kiwi hijau, tapi kiwi gold tak boleh ye, sebab itu jenis yang mahal. Silakan"

The last stretch of road on the kiwikart brought us to a spectacle of persimmon fruit garden. There was even a giant slide which go through a persimmon fruit structure amidst the many persimmon fruit trees. Persimmon or "Pisang Kaki" in malay has always been a favourite of mine. Chancing the fruits on the leafless trees here made me spring from the kart and bury myself in the juicy fruity persimonic flesh. One sweet fruit was savoured after another, in between the subconcious plucking and rolling them into my handbag,he he he I was like a child in a candy mall!

The Kiwi360 offers a wholesome experience for everyone in the family. Other than the Kiwi tour and fruit picking, the one stop centre also houses a cafe and a souvenir shop. Since this was probably the last shop we would step our foot in, we indulged the remaining time left in last minute shopping for all the aunties and relatives back home. Kiwi themed products were pricey here but we still bagged a few especially the fruit preserves and other souvenir items.

Bay of Plenty

As the day was drawing to a close, we mounted our van and decided to take a detour to catch a glimpe of the seaside. Yeop drove us to this scenic beach called "Bay of Plenty" and we seized the remnants of time by inhaling the sea breeze as well as performing our jamak. It was a very spiritual experience for us all to perform our prayers by the seaside before the setting sun, bearing witness to the beauty of Allah's creations in every aspect of our presence here in New Zealand. Our prayer practice attracted many onlookers who had thought we were worshipping the sun, as our kiblat was facing the ball of fire in the horizon.

"...I bear witness..."

While the adults were surrendering the few minutes to perform the compulsory, the kids submerged themselves in the powdery sand. Many sea shells and beach pebbles found their way to the kids' pockets, shoes and even undies that day, neglecting their desire to take a dip in the ocean after learning it was freezing cold unlike the waters of our shores.

We love NZ!

It was lead heavy to step back into our vans to continue the journey back to Auckland that evening. The realization of how much we had enjoyed our trip here made it even worse to pack up and leave the very next day. Another awakening that hit us hard was the mounting office work that awaited us when we get back, the reality of it all was just about to sink in, pulling us hard at the very core of our existence. Before "Bay of Plenty" dissapeared under the night sky, we clambered up on a this friendly looking tree to capture the last view of the seaside. All of us big and small made it to the highest branch of the tree, happy, blessed and gratified of what we have achieved in our journey cum our lives thus far.

And t'was at that point onwards...we managed to move on...

Thanks for joining me in this journey of ours Folks! It has been a pleasure. Till next time...

Together again - Janet Jackson

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Part 10 : All Systems Go...

June 11, 2008

0800 hours,
60 Minutes to Launch:

Launch Day, finally. For the two courageous Zobornauts, this day marked the end of a tensed period of anxious anticipation. On this day, they would find out whether all knowledge and skills attained during the formal mission training of two years testing mental preparation and physical training would pay off. As with all great adventures of our times, the dividing line between success and failure of this mission is wafer thin. Will it be "One small tumble for woman, one giant tumble for womankind"? The two Zobornauts and indeed the whole nail-biting world would soon find out.

0830 hours
30 minutes to Launch

After a light breakfast, Major Wizynskis and Captain Widzentel were ushered into the briefing room for a final run down of this historic day's itinerary and launch procedures. Solemn readiness were etched on the faces of both Zobornauts as they nodded to indicate comprehension to everything that was said to them. They would be finally akin to lifetime experiments conducted in a realm where gravity, temperature, and pressure can be manipulated for a variety of scientific purposes. For the benefit of medical and engineering breakthroughs these two were ready and determined to make history.

Outside, at the visitor's dock, parents and families waited apprehensively for the two to finally embark on this dangerous mission. Concerned family members recited prayers in silence, praying for the safe launch for the two Zorbornauts. Parents were also handed a comprehensive manual on all the procedures involved in the launching to facilitate their understanding regarding the entire Zorbanaut programme.

0845 Hours
15 minutes to Launch

After the final briefing, the two Zorbonouts were transported to the Zorbonaut Pick Up point located in the vicinity of the Zorb Station. Clad in special outer space alienation costumes specially designed for this Zorbadoobeedoo mission, the dauntless
pair then mounted on the feeder shuttle making their way 300 metres above ground to get access to the Zorbcraft.

The time has finally arrived for these two to experience the acceleration of the Zorbcraft from zero to over seventeen thousand miles per hour (mach 25)in less than 8seconds. Only well trained individuals are able to withstand the gravitational pull of that kind, and these two are more than ready to undergo such endurance.

0855 hours
5 minutes to Launch:

Zorbonauts ready for take off.

Major Wizynskis : All system in working order.
Captain Widzentell : Ready to initiate fall.

3...2..1 and a half...1 and aquater...1! @#*#*@

Zorbocraft discourse:

he he he he
hu hu hu hu
hey this is not bad
sejuk gils!
bila nak habis ni?
this is kewl!

The first Zorbonaut to hit Earth: Zorbonaut Wiz

Mission Accomplished! With arms stretched out in the air, Zorbonaut Wiz looking elated to reach Earth safely, with Zorbonaut Wid in an overwhelmed state, posing in the clinging zorbonaut costume.


Blood Of Heroes - Megadeth

Friday, July 11, 2008

Part 9: Agrodome

Day 7, Wednesday 11th June 08

A visit to Agrodome would complete anyone's trip to New Zealand. Almost everything that New Zealand represents thrives here. It's a unique kiwi theme park with a different twist for thrill seekers. There are no roller coasters, no machine scary rides that shoot you to the sky or ones that drop you from the sky either. The attractions here are the closest you could get to the real thrill deal. So real that they would make you sign some sort of of liability certificates or something if anything were to happen to you.

One of the kids trying to feed the elpaca.

The dome also houses a working animal and fruit farm. Allowances were given to us to to pet the animals and pick as many fruits as our bags could carry right from the farm. We were taken around the farm on a tram, stopping strategically at various spots to feed and play with animals such as the sheep, beef cattle, red and fallow deer, lamas, alpacas, ostrich and emus. All too friendly to humans' touch, ever ready to be fed and pet. It was a very educational and enriching experience for the kids, being so close to animals heretofore seen only in books.

The highlight of Agrodome was probably the sheep show. We were exposed to all nineteen types of sheep breeds paraded on a specially designed auditorium. All the sheeps were extremely obedient, prancing on stage right on cue. Before the start of the show, the host asked for a show of hands if there were people from Malaysia and we went yay!!! as loud as we could, raising and waving our hands frantically. Rasa macam kat olympic plaks, representing the country he he he. Other attractions were the sheep shearing, the sheepdog demonstration, cow milking and lamb feeding.

Animals up-close.

At the end of the farm tour, we decided to go round and have a peek at all of the extreme sports venues. There were not many people queuing up for any of the extreme activities and we were having second thoughts too. Our mother forbade us to go on the bungee, so we could either choose the free fall or the zorb, the rest was not within our budget. As the sky was slowly getting darker, so were our thoughts of trying any of the sports. Fidgeting like crazy, we decided to sleep on it and let the morn of morrow be the judge of our final say.

It would be our last day in Rotorua the morn after. Sights of the Rotorua lake have yet to be enjoyed in thorough. Before the sun fully set on us again, which was around 5pm, we dashed to the shores of Rotorua lake. There were not many people like us there, taking a stroll in the freezing temperature of the evening. No joggers,no cyclists and no children around, only 12 standing silhouettes looking over the horizon savouring the scenery of the sunset. The flapping of the swans and the quaking of the ducks were the only sounds that shattered the tranquility of the moment. Night soon approached and so was our hunger. It was time to go back to the motel and cook dinner again...for 12 people! It was terribly cumbersome to "Eenie meenie mynie mo, which Brahim packet is to go?!" tau! hu hu hu.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Part 8: A Walk in Whakarewarewa

Day 6, Tuesday 10th June 08

The beautiful name of "Aotearoa" (New Zealand) originates from the Maori language which translates to "The Land of The Long White Cloud". I kept looking up at the sky through out the entire journey to spot any long white clouds, but all I could bear witness was the magnificent clear blue sky. Clouds were scarce here, probably due to winter, unlike the ones we perpetual see in our country which come in bunches of white puffs. Nevertheless, the breathtaking geographical make up of this country left us mesmerized most of the time, not at least missing the elusive long white cloud.

Aetearo is not just about the endless rolling green hills, the long white clouds and the pristine mountains and lakes, but most significantly it's also about the native Maori people and its rich culture. For the Maori people, it is considered an honour to share their cultural treasures with visitors like us. A culture they uniquely relayed through beautiful rendition of songs and graceful dances. Heritage so rich, narrated through the love epic and war saga of their ancestors. It was at the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve that we experienced in depth the ways of life of the Maoris, from the simple day to day activity of cooking and bathing, to the social and educational aspect of it.

Pintu gerbang at the entrance of Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve.

Our visit to this village was firstly greeted with "Kia Ora" by an elder which literally means be well or healthy. It is also a general greeting for almost all occasions from thank yous to goodbyes. The accommodating nature of the language evidently persists in other aspects of the Maori way of life. Their existence is in harmony with nature, utilizing and appreciating what nature has rewarded them in terms of the fertile land and abundant natural resources : the spouting geysers, the bubbling mud pools and the steaming cliffs. Everything rewarded by nature is used on a daily basis. The mineral pools are used for baths and washing, the steaming earth is used to cook their food in an earthen oven, and the bubbling mud pools are used for medicinal purposes. Whakarewarewa is a self sufficient village in which the true Maoris live and operate as a big family simultaneously managing the village as a tourist centre.

"...kat situlah kami masak jagung and rebus telur. Harga jagung NZ2.50 setongkol. Sedap.

"...kat sini plak, kami mandi-manda beramai-ramai. Air kami lembut, tak payah pakai perapi rambut"

My sis and I at the entrance of the mini concert arena. Clear blue cloudless sky.

After the interesting explanation, we trailed the village path that led to a mini concert area. It was here that we were held spellbound by handsome and beautiful dancers. I recorded almost all the cultural performances but failed to upload them on youtube for some inexplicable reasons. But below is a recording made by someone else, with the same dancers who entertained us that day.

Good looking dancers in graceful intoxicating movements. The music and dances are narrations of their stories.

The cultural performances ended our itinerary at Whakarewarewa. The remaining time was spent handicraft shopping and sight seeing of geysers and mud pools on location. After eating the jagung rebus and buying a handful of handcrafted pendants and rings, we retired at our motel for prayers and a quick meal before proceeding to Rainbow Springs.

Rainbow Springs

"Breathe deeply, and take in the native bush, ferns, trees and plants that grow and flower all around you as you wander through the tree lined pathways at Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua. Enjoy the tranquillity of the crystal clear mineral water that flows tirelessly from the subterranean springs throughout the park. Marvel at the silent grace of the magnificent specimens of Rainbow, Brown and Tiger trout and feed them as they cruise the fern-fringed pools. Hear the bustling bush wildlife, and meet the curious species of native birds on display."

Excerpt taken from the offical website.

We were unfortunate to have missed the chance to see New Zealand's national icon the kiwi bird since we arrived at the premise after sunset. But it was a unique encounter on its own to stroll around the park at night. The pathway was amply lighted by colourful lights which interestingly enhanced the natural surrounding. As much as we tried to immerse ourselves in the whole experience, we couldn't help but feel ravenous. It was cold, everyone was hungry, my parents were whining to get back. It was hilarious for my sis and I to walk with a reluctant group whose only wish was to savour warm plates of rice. So we hastened our steps and just passed through quickly all the picture displays and informational data spread throughout the park and hurried back to the van.

Halfway through Rainbow Springs. Everyone was tired by then.

Off we whooshed to the motel, masak nasi, sup sayur and maggie and brewed pots of hot chocolate before snuggling up to bed to rest. The next adventure which soon to be embarked would arrive at the tweak of sunlight. And that is another story for another day folks.

Pokarekare - Aotearoa Maori Chorale