In which the good Dr. K blows into town...
This weekend past was one of the best I've had.
Just a little bit of history: Back when I was a mere sapling, about 12 years ago, I was working for Dr. MJC - she whom I met recently with CC (Junior) - at the IHCM at UNIMAS, I remet Mikey whom I'd met years back at UVIC, then through Dr. MJC, I met Dr. K (who just blew into town), through whom I met Ms. Chan (fortunately for me that when I met her, she hadn't reached her quota of meeting new people for that year) and Dr. TO (who told us not to deprive her when we warned her about non-halal restaurants), and eventually Dr. FL. Okay, good, got all that?
Marie Cafe: Drs. TO, FL, K, Ms. Chan, Mikey and I formed the core group of a club that was devoted to eating laksa on Sunday. Around 8:30 or so, the phones would start beeping and text messages would come flooding in.
A typical exchange would go something like this:
"Eh! Go or not? You can pick up or not?
"Memang go lah - Sunday innit? 9 am can? Mikey already wake up issit?"
"Yah, already up, and T's appointment with Sheldon (hair dresser) at 1300 so no rush"
"Hot or not today - got wind or not?"
"Don't know lah - but Mikey sure to say "very muggy one""
"Ai-yah, Mikey always say "VMO" - Buy lottery ticket the day he say is sejuk"
Then we'd drive down to the Marie cafe, have our bowls of laksa, with kopi-o, argue over who got to pay, sit and shoot the breeze. Always v. idyllic because for some reason that particular kopitiam was never busy, the owner and maker of laksa was very relaxed and happy to see us, and we got to sit in the shade and while the day away. It was loverly, and Dr. TO was the president of the club.
Then around 2002, Dr. TO left, then I left, and then Dr. K left a few years later, and Mikey and Dr. FL got married (but not to each other), and the club fell into disarray. There were three occasions when we almost made quorum - once in Vancouver when Dr. TO came and I cooked, a second time in Oakland when Dr. TO and Mikey came and I cooked, and a third time in New York when Dr. K and I visited Dr. TO, and DWA was there, and I cooked.
This last Saturday: I was in KCH, Dr. K came over and the only one missing was Dr. TO. It was a whirlwind of activities. In the morning I went for a run in the rain to prepare myself for the weekend, and Dr. K flew in at 1:30pm. We picked her up in her baju ketat which she insisted on wearing despite our telling her that it would be bajuh lebih ketat after the weekend. But she said that she had to fly the flag for Kelab Baju Ketat and wouldn't listen to us.
Then home for tea and apple pie with ice cream (pie by Martha, ice cream by Nestle), to pay respects and to chat up. Then Dr. K felt sleepy but she didn't want to nap at home, so she said, "Reflexology! We go! Air-con, got people massaging your feet and back. Sure to sleep one!". So off to RH complex and to the Golden Lotus or something like that where we sat in a row of three chairs and had our backs and feet attended to - all fully clothed, nothing untoward.
After this refreshing
Mani Chai - which is a herby leafy vegetable is local. When the reservation was made, Ms. Chan asked whether they had it, and the restaurant staff said, no, but if we wanted, they would get some and make it up specially for us - so of course we did; 2) Pomfret cooked 3 different ways; 3) Lotus root 4)Lettuce wrap with the duck meat - the first course of Peking duck is always the crisply roasted skin shaved off the duck served with thin flour shells and sauce; and 5) Soft-shelled crab deep-fried with salted egg.
Gawd. Fatty Roasted Duck Skin. Lo!
Then to Simplicious for fresh gingery drinks to dissolve the fatty residues. There I lost the chance to pay again. Dr. K had paid for our nap this afternoon, and when I tried to pay for dinner, Ms. Chan had already beaten me to it - not only me, but also Dr. PK. Then at Simplicious, Dr. PK beat me to the bill - so sneaky these people. This is a game we play every time we go out, trying to pay for the dinner or the drinks or the laksa. Dr. TO is the master of the game - she's been known to slip her credit card to the waiter the moment she enters the restaurant. I pretend to go wash my hands during the middle of the meal, and Dr. K just screams us down. It's a bit less formal when we go to the kopitiams though. The vendors of food and drinks only take cash, and not just cash, but the one who can offer the correct sum of money and coin will be the one who wins for the vendors hate coming back to give out change. So when you sit down, you put out your cash - small bills with a smattering of coins - and get ready to calculate the price of the drink or meal to the nearest 5 cents and arrange your bills and coins accordingly. You never put out a 50 dollar bill lest you be accused of not playing the game seriously, since the vendors will simply ignore the bill - too difficult to give change you see. In the picture you can see that Mikey is already getting ready, hand on cash and other hand waving to attract the vendor's attention...
On Sunday, the heavens opened up and the rain came pouring down, and there was another flurry of text messages about changing the time, but we had a strict window of opportunity because Dr. PK was joining us, and he had arranged to perform a C-section for 815 that morning so as to be ready to meet us at 9am for laksa at the Fat Cat. So out into the pouring rain we went, and we reconvened at the Fat Cat for our meeting - 10 years later. Laksa, branch store of Chong Choon except less salty. We'd have gone to Marie Cafe except that it had closed down quite a while ago - probably because we'd stopped frequenting it. See? We haven't changed all that much in the intervening years have we? There was also lashings of hot coffee and roti canai (only Cad$0.50, instead of Cad$5.00 in Vancouver).
The laksa on hand - not as luxurious as the one I make. And we were all shocked at the price - in the last ten years, the price has gone from MYR$2.50 to MYR$4.50. Scandalous!
The fearless Dr. FL also eats in a white shirt because he's expert (as we all are) at eating laksa without splashing broth and staining our shirts.
After eating and more gossip, the rain slowed and we looked at each other wondering what to do next. Someone yawned, and the rest of us shouted in unison, "Sleepy! Okay, we go to Reflexogy for nap!" . Dr. FL brought us to the Lotus Spa or something like that, and we sat in a row of five and had our feet and backs attended to with great poundings of backs, stretching/twisting of spines and flicking of toes. It was painful, but enjoyable in a masochistic kind of way.
Then we staggered out and went home to sleep off the morning's activities with curious androids gazing at us. This weekend's laksa meeting has raised the bar. Brunch followed by reflexology trumps our previous high point when one weekend we had laksa at 9am, talked and chatted till noon, went to the Hilton for lunch and then to the Forrest Caffe at 3pm for afternoon tea with cakes and the like.
I suppose tastes and needs change over the years.
Philosophy: This weekend reminds that life is short, and we only have one shot at it. Dr. FL has always said to us:
"Why you want to earn so much money - no point lah if you don't enjoy life" - This is a scandalous philosophy for the clan (and most other people here) he's from. For them, the goal in life is to amass as much money and as many assets as you can for your descendants and the continuation of the family name. For me, this was all made so very clear when he once told me, "You know, there's a finite number of meals, you must make sure each one counts, otherwise no point eating what!"
All in all a good reminder that I spend too much time worrying about work and stability, that I should look at the bigger picture so I can live in, and of the moment, and not put things off. So with that in mind, I turned on the 'out of office' notification in my work e-mail, and once this post is done, will shut off this laptop until my return. After all, if you spend all your time looking over the precipice - even if you have a cape to help you fly - you'll never notice the view.