Wednesday, 29 April 2009

And on the First Day there was Silence...

20th April 2009

I reclined deeply into my chair as I let out a huge sigh; an almost instinctive reaction that stemmed partially from exhaustion, relief, and oddly, satisfaction. A piercing silence rang throughout the room, as I stared blankly at the empty room white-washed by the accompanying furniture.

Silence is an odd thing, always has been. Sometimes inducing a gap of awkwardness, sometimes creating the boxes for thought, and at other times, simply representing "nothingness." But oddly, it is within this "nothingness" that causes one to find "something" - something to occupy your mind with; almost as if a natural instinct to not let one sink into said "nothingness". Perhaps "I think therefore I am" and the implications of its contrary are truer than most of us would like to believe.

For that moment, the silence that filled the room pierced my soul, and dawned the realization upon me that it was over - a day of charades, anxiety, expectation and uncertainty had finally come to an end. And all I was left with sitting in that room alone was the memories of the day.

The memories of the slight discomfort and awkwardness that always came with introductions in the first hour, the need to take the first step and extend the first hand, the speaking of the first words, and the writing of the first sentences. Self-induced pressure perhaps, but the saying cannot be utterly false; first impressions do count - but the problem was, I was not exactly very sure what I wanted to project in the first place, so I was groping around in the dark for the most part of it.

Fortunately, things warmed up as the day went by, as the structure might have it that I had time to spare for individual groups on a smaller scale during the second session. No matter how many times I do it, speaking to a smaller audience will always be easier than addressing a larger one, and perhaps this really shone through during the group discussions as I felt more approachable, and more importantly, personal through mid-day.

The proteges took the reins in the third session as I started to get a better grasp of their personalities and styles as they took the stage one at a time. The tables were turned, and instead, this was their chance to leave their first impressions on me.

As my backbone took to the shape of my chair at the end of the day, exhaustion occupied the better part of me, no thanks to the malfunction of the body-clock and the preluding insomnia. Strains of relief flowed through my mind sporadically, each representing a different blessing that I was counting - reality was a bit better than anticipation in this case. But deep within the trenches of my soul, was an odd sense of satisfaction; something that I didn't expect myself to gain from the experience.

In all it's ironic glory, oddly for me, teaching actually was gratifying in itself. In a rather inexplicable manner, I was actually somewhat... satisfied, even though I was not exactly sure from what. Never to be regarded as the patient or nurturing type, the experience was still somewhat fulfilling nonetheless, and for the first time in my life, I started to get a glimpse of the satisfaction and fulfillment that one can gain through this in the long-run.

But perhaps for me, this in itself, was the most scary thing. Being oddly gratifying in itself probably meant that it would become increasingly difficult to draw the line. I believe that it is very much human nature to be cognitively dissonant about your circumstances, and somewhat convince / hypnotize oneself to believe that what one has is what one truly wants.

And oftentimes, when one doesn't have a clear idea of what one truly wants, it is easy for him / her to account to himself / herself that what he / she has been given is indeed what he / she truly wants. And naturally, this only becomes easier to believe if one can find derivable, tangible and verifiable pleasure from what one has.

As if beckoning me into her deadly jaws of comfort and stability, the world of academia suddenly started to look a little rosier than it has ever been; and perhaps if I was any less of an idealist, I would probably fall to the wayside a lot more easily. They say: Beggars can't be choosers - true, but being spoiled for choice is lesser and more of a dilemma at the same time.

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, I still very clearly know where I want to go down my path of life, and perhaps now, more consciously than ever, I have to will myself more to not rest on the laurels of my circumstances, but continue up the ladder of dreams. Desperation, anger and indignance will slowly depart from me as my muses, and I will have to seek strength from different sources, but of course, that's in the time to come.

For now, I can only open my legs wider as I continue walking down the now-forked path of my life. Where this will lead eventually is something that I will probably have to wait until 'eventually' to find out. But one thing that I believe to know now is something that I mentioned to the class early in the day....

"The good news is: it can only get better."

Monday, 6 April 2009

18th Month Anniversary: Oscar's - Oyster Wars

13th March 2009

Down the stretch we walked, keeping an eye out for justification of avoiding the above-ground lots; the customary Lamborghini and other manner of show-off cars. Yet strangely, the lots were free of any form of these trophies, and only packed to the brim with the more consumer-friendly picks.

Perhaps a reflection to the night's agenda, a simple and honest celebration that was planned without any hidden romantic agenda, but sprinkled with a touch of deliberate-ness to create a "blast from the past."

Dress in the exact same attire from a year back as an innuendo-riddled tribute to add to the commemoration of an annual-tradition that was just starting to take shape, we stepped into the Conrad's hotel lobby, only to be greeted by a hospitable hotel staff who was more than willing to show us to our destination.

Oscar's was a similar yet different dining experience as opposed to last year's Town Restaurant. Set in a more casual setting without too much grandiose, the thematic colours of yellow and black ran through both the decor of the indoor and outdoor dining areas, while the occasional mirror and wall-long paintings lined the walls for good measure.

PhotobucketBar Side


But the decor was secondary when it came to buffets, as a buffet is only worth its weight in the food quality and variety it provides, and to quote a now-probably-defunct-restaurant's slogan, "the surprise is in the food." And Oscar's had one particular trick up its sleeve that had me smiling with glee for the entire night.

Ice and Shaved

Starting off with the buffet staple of fresh seafood, I went for my usual assortment of fresh-off-the-ice spread of shelled-seafood with an excessively-indulgent dose of sashimi on the side thrown in for more than a good measure.

Lobster EyeSeafood Platter

Not pictured: Too much Sashimi

With the passing of age (and maybe due to a penchant for fine-dining), my taste-buds over the years have grown to become more attuned to what I like to call the "essence" the food, tasting the dish with a minimalist approach with hardly any additional sauce or spices just to fully take in the taste of the meat. And seafood (western ones at least) is one area that I always try to exercise said approach towards the dishes.

Of course, my partner in crime, being the young-un that she is, is still very much into drowning her dishes with all sorts of gravy that she can get her hands on. But still, through the disagreement of the approach, we could still more or less agree that the prawns were the surprise tops in freshness over the crayfish, crab and lobster available. But of course to me, 3 different types of sashimi is in a league of its own.

Nit PickingChubby Blast

Partners in Crime

Perhaps that's why when it came to the hot dishes, usually laden with all manner of gravy and sauces; she was a lot keener in the samples than my obligatory approach. Having said that though, the lamb shoulder, lemon chicken, Thai-style crayfish and the cheese pasta definitely left an impression on me.

Hot PlateHot Plate

Now, which Plate could be Mine?

Red Alert

Red (Spolier) Alert

But the real highlight of the night, for me at least, was the one-man-war that I was waging against the oysters' alliance. With a mind-blowing spread of oysters separated into their country and location of origin, I was hell-bent on becoming an oyster-connoisseur by the end of the night, punctuating each round of the buffet proper with a regenerating plate of oysters.

Oyster Wars 1

I tried roping in my dear partner into my war, but being the general non-fan that she was, she only presented a patronising effort, sampling only the French oysters and expressing her total abhorrence towards the Australian Coffin Bay ones.

Oyster Wars

Fortunately for me, I had allies in white on the other side of the counter, always ready and willing to shell the lucky few that I had hand-picked on-the-spot to ensure maximum freshness of the oysters, and give me a helping hand (and knife) in my journey of gaining the revered status of Oyster Connoisseur.

By the end of the night, I was ready to draw my conclusions, from the intense and immense samplings of the different types of oysters. Australian Oysters tend to be darker in color, somewhat smaller and bear the aftertaste of the oysters in the Chinese Oyster Omelettes. The French seem to have really salty seas, as both types of French Oysters came across as extremely salty, but their texture was smooth and slippery.

But the real winner of the night had to be the Canadian Oysters, with just the right amount of flavour, succulent and juicy flesh the slips easily into one's mouth and melts just as easily within it, the essence of the oysters just "explodes in your mouth"(ahem), and results in an eye-batting sense of orgasmic-euphoria (double-innuendo) after each piece. Apparently, the rest of the room seemed to agree with me, as the Canadian Oysters were all-out before the end of the night.

Ready and Set

"Oyster Connoisseur" with his mighty fork, the "Oyster Bane"

Needless to say, the night ended with a cityscape's worth of desserts, always her favourite part. If there's one thing that I have to give it to her, is that her Sweet Tooth is definitely a lot more decayed than mine, always craving and always preparing space in my little tummy for the sweet finish.

Spread EagleDessert Stack

First Love

Definitely in her Element

Through the ranks of creamy mousses, the fruity tarts and the fluffy and sweet cakes, the one particular outstanding dessert was the passionfruit ice-cream. Particularly proud of her artistic and professional-looking self-placed garnish, she cringed her face when she first tasted the Passionfruit ice-cream. Thinking that it was only her not being able to take sour, I scooped off a spoonful of said ice-cream and savoured it too, only to give the exact same reaction. It was stingingly sour, but yet oddly refreshing, amongst all the other sweet treats.


Her Pride and Glory


One Happy Chubby

As we stepped out of the restaurant, only to sit at the couch in the lobby, she walked away from me as I sat there, actively digesting my food. Approaching the piano, she was fiddling with her camera. A few moments later, she ran back to me, pointing at the blinking orange dot. Over the last one and a half years, many things have changed; the fun and the excitement of a budding relationship had been replaced with a comfortable, accommodating, supportive and more mature relationship.

Cool on Candlelight

Cool in Candlelight

As the camera flashed, I know that despite these changes, there are just some things that stay the same regardless - like the way she looks in that white dress, for example.

Couple Pick