About nomadsojourn

Musings of a traveller who is as pragmatic as she is offbeat, and who entertains random thoughts and trivialities that tickle her fancy. Also contains occasional outbursts from the avid bargain hunter who loves giving things a good toss for kicks.

Weird and Wonderful Expressions 

I came across a social media space that has a collection of words, that when one is lost for words, gives one the ability to accurately express oneself mostly in languages other than one’s own. 

Quite interesting, considering that they have a word to so aptly describe me in bed. *devilish grin* 


If you find beauty in all things, you are a philocalist.

If you are leading a life unbounded by convention, you are being datsukozu.

The distinct smell of rain when it falls to the dry, warm ground is petrichor.

If you find comfort in the darkness, you have nyctophilia.

If you have dysania, you would find it difficult to get out of bed each morning.

When you are in a scurryfunge, you are madly cleaning up when a guest is on his way over.

For more, google Wordstuck.

The strangest one I have seen (and is ridiculous to pronounce):

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The Tasmanian Devil

TazDev

SJ has an obsession with this furry guy. Described as a murderous beast capable of snapping one in half with a single bite, I fail to understand the obsession. But he can be silly, sometimes funny, while chasing whichever unfortunate character down to sink his fangs into.

I waltzed into Tasmania in my late teens thinking that the actual Tasmanian Devil looked like him. How silly was I to be duped by a cartoon? At that age too. Well, that was more than twenty years ago and I didn’t have Google at my fingertips. I know way, way, way better now.

How much has Tasmania changed over two decades? I cannot wait to find out.

Sugar and Spice in Malacca

Malacca. One of the few places that I will include in the chart capturing the hyperbolic growth of my interest in spices. 

The very first place was in a school bus. I ate up my social studies project as a snack on the boring trip home. 

Thirty years ago, my teacher had us do a presentation on the East India Company and the spice trade. I was in primary school – I didn’t understand the significance of the EIC, but I knew how to eat. So the focus then was more on the spices than the trade. My parents got me a bag of spices from the mamak store (local provision store run usually by a burly but friendly Indian man) which I happily poured out and carefully sorted, bagged, labelled and stuck on a piece of vanguard sheet,  rather wildly illustrated to help prove that I knew what I was talking about. I was already OCD then.

After the exhilaration of telling my friends about what a star anise was, I proceeded to lick one on the bus on the way home because it looked so pretty. Ick. Didn’t like it much. Which is probably why I don’t care for licorice. Then, I decided to try another and another and another till I had uncooked dried shrimp. Boredom sure made me do odd things. 

I am unsure why they were there since prawns are strictly not a spice but they were. I loved it and fished out all the orange bits I could find and gobbled them up before I arrived home. There, my love for Hae Bi (dried shrimp, cooked) began.

You make a lot of things with Hae Bi. Peranakan cuisine is one whose dishes are liberally doused with them. I discovered the true blue taste of the Nonya while in Malacca many years back. I learnt what a rempah (spice paste, like pesto but spicier) was and what ingredients went into making one. Of course, there isn’t just one way to make it. The composition, that affects taste and flavour, is totally dependent on where the cook is from, his preferences and what the paste is for. It seems the amount of time spent manually pounding, not machine-blending, spices together makes a great difference. Therein lies the space for creativity and innovation not for the weak of heart nor short of stamina! 

When I think Peranakan, I think of Malacca and all the wonderful bowls of Ayam Buah Keluak, Babi Pongteh, Ikan Assam, Jiu Hu Char, Kueh Pie Ti, Belacan and Chendol. 

In fact, I am on my way there now on yet another boring bus trip. My Hae Bi beckons and I must comply. In an hour or two, I will whisper I do to my beautiful goggly prawn eyes.


Sambal Petai

Trim in Sydney and Cairo

No, not fit. Matthew Flinders’ cat. 


Heralded as the first person to correctly map out Australia and identify it as a continent, Lt. Flinders had a short but well-lived life. Trim, a black cat with white paws, was his loyal companion till the end. 

Lt. Flinders left his wife of three months to pursue adventures in the Navy and didn’t see her till nine years after. During this time, he did many things for Australia, but not so much for his wife. He finally returned and had a daughter with his wife. The daughter married into the Petrie family and went on to have a son, William Petrie. 

Sir William Petrie became a famed Egyptologist who had a student named Howard Carter. Yes, the same one who discovered King Tut’s tomb. 

Six degrees of separation. How interesting. 

I learnt about Lt. Flinders after a brief lesson in Aussie history by a volunteer at the State Library of NSW. I had time to burn  so I hopped over for the tour – I was glad I did! 

Memories from Facebook 

Facebook showed me a picture I took two years ago. It was one of my best friend and me when I visited in Australia. 

I am not sure the title of best friend holds for either of us. We have not spoken much since. For that matter, since she left Singapore after college a bit over twenty years ago, we have not kept in close contact. 

Our interests couldn’t be more different. She was the extrovert and had many friends while I, not quite social, kept to my small circle of friends. She was strong, independent and brave, and adventures followed her everywhere. I liked books, was more of a nerd and stayed close to home. I was just wilder spiritually. Heh. 

As life went along, we pursued different routes and established ourselves, families, habits. Communication was erratic at best. But at the back of my mind, even though she was miles away and we were caught up in our own lives, there was always her. 

Some time in our thirties, she made the extra effort to connect. I was happy not to be forgotten in her busy schedule to meet people when she flew down here. We’d make it a point to meet and catch up whenever and conversations flowed easily. We recovered. 

She got me an iPad for my birthday one year. I think that was the point when things got weird. 

I was elated of course because that was a WOW type of gift. All was good until I sank back on ground and couldn’t help but feel a little obligated to do the same for her. Her birthday was two months away from mine. I think I got her something from Pandora and/or Coach that she might like – I cannot remember. I didn’t think much of it after. But I was glad that I did not get anything expensive the following years. 

Then one day, we organized a family trip to Australia. I told her about it and set up a time to meet her family too for dinner. She kindly offered her SUV for me to use for our entire trip. I declined because I had already made the necessary travel arrangements. She insisted. I declined. And it went on. Then we had some words. She gave up. 

Her family whipped up a storm for dinner and were so gracious. I was so grateful to be welcomed. It felt like a family gathering.

Though the visit came and went, the SUV conversation, I knew, stayed with us. I have a reputation for being frank – I still am not sure what happened but I think she was offended that I refused her help and that I said I did not want to trouble her. I recall her turning it around to ask if she was when she stays over at my place. That didn’t end too well. 

Her business takes her to my part of the world often and I know she meets with a whole bunch of friends and then some. None with me though. She and the bunch organized a school gathering once and invited me – but I really don’t like parties, particularly with unfamiliar faces, so I didn’t go. 

The charade went on for a bit with neither of us saying anything besides a few likes on each other’s Facebook posts. Hers focused on celebrity friends, exercises and luxuries while mine had travel, history and food. Different. The drift had resurfaced and perhaps when we become old fogeys, we’ll gather to reminisce again.

********

It was bright and sunny on the day of the School Sports Meet. I was on the girls’ relay team but I had to drop out because I just had incised and drained a boil on my back that hurt like hell. For some reason, the reserve was also medically unfit to run. The whole team then had to forfeit the race and I got the full blame. I walked off in a huff, hurt at the unfair accusations thrown my way. 

The fingers of the new student tapped lightly on my shoulder and interrupted my quiet sobs. She spoke and I was reassured. She tried to make me laugh and then told me we’d be best friends.