Thursday, September 25, 2008

Almost Over

So the presentation is done. We've been working day and night for this for weeks, and now it's all over. Relief is understating it. But another feeling is stronger - sadness.

On the coach back from Canary Wharf, looking at the rolling hills passing by, I was secretly trying to capture it all in my mind. Almost desperately in fact, trying to make mental imprints of these lovely surroundings. Yes, my time here is coming to an end. Tonight we're having a fancy schmancy dinner, where I bet people will be exchanging contact details and business cards, no doubt many are in the same veins as I am.

Tomorrow will just be a debrief session and before you know it, that's it. Of course, not all of us will immediately leave. Some are staying in London for a while longer, while some are traveling to Europe like me. Whatever the plans are, I might not meet the people again. These fun bunch of people who for the past 4 weeks have acted largely not as the straight backed bankers we're supposed to be but rather the fun people they actually are. And for that, I'm glad.

Moving on is never easy. Harder when you're leaving not only the place, but the friendship that you've forged over the days. I'll surely miss playing foosball and pool at night at the bar, hanging out at the lounge while sipping hot chocolate, the pre dinner strolls around the lovely campus etc. It has become a routine, and pretty soon I have to return to the old routine. 40 minute commutes per way to work, long nights alone at home and weekends spent thinking about work. Not exactly an appealing prospect to tell the truth.

But my home is not here. For all the good that being away is offering, I still would not trade it in for my life back home. It might not be as sweet, or as fancy, but it's a comfortable life I've moulded myself, though not always at my own behest. I guess it's true what they say. In the end, I still prefer the hujan batu di bumi sendiri.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Another weekend recap, indulge me.

Saturday morning, off to London yet again. Went to Campden Town Market to people-gaze. Loads of interesting characters there, and the crowd was a bit suffocating. It was a nice sunny Saturday yet again, prolly that's the reason people were out in droves that day.

Then we're off to Covent Garden. Watched the street shows and took some pictures and bought some chocolates too. Met Kue to pass him the kuih raya that my mom made me asked me to take along. He came all the way from Cardiff just to get them, lest the wifey aka my lil sister be unhappy =P Enjoy the kuih raya Kue and Pija, my juadah raya will be croissants and baguettes probably.

Next up, British Museum. Took the tube to Holborn and walked the rest of the way there practically directionless. We just randomly crossed streets until we see lots of Asian people huddling together (which usually means a tourist attraction). Last time I was here in 1994, I was scared shitless of the mummies. So, I went to have a look again. Cue hair tingling on the back of my neck, but it was alright this time around. That was a relief, I tell you. After a while, foot aching like mad and starting to feel tired and hungry, we went out and took a nap on the small patch of green near the front gate.

Now feeling refreshed, we walked towards Piccadily Circus and took a detour to Chinatown to get some cup noodles for the Euro trip this coming weekend onwards. We broke our fast at a Lebanese joint which was overpriced and not fulfiling. We need to look for Turkish joints next time. Since we had only about 10 minutes to eat, we practically shoved it down our throats before rushing to Queen's Theatre for the main highlight of the day - Les Miserables!

We managed to get quite good seats at about 32 quids, and the show was excellent. It was very polished, I was enthralled the whole time. I'm glad we took the time to catch it, it was well worth the time and money. The songs were nice, the cast were superb, the set were great, no wonder it has been staged for 22 years now. If you are ever in town, do take the time to catch this, or the other musicals. They're there for years and years for a reason, and a good one too.

This week will be busy with preparation for the presentation on Thursday. Scary!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sweet Victory

Let the pictures do the talking first, shall we?

I paid 37 quids for this, it better be worth it.

And they took the pitch for kick-off.

Before you know it, Nigel Reo-Coker scored for the away team in the 4th minute!

Villa made 2 more dangerous tries in rapid successions but Gomes was excellent in goal. Soon afterwards, one of the stewards told me I can't take pictures in the stadium, even though I can see other people taking pictures from around the stadium. I suspect she sniffed that I'm a Villan amongst the throes of Spurs so decided to single me out.

Anyway, the game panned out to be a very good one with Villa constantly on the attack and the threat of Ashley Young was very apparent. After the break, he went on to score Villa's second! Spurs introduced Giovani into the game, then only their game kicked up a notch. Nearing the end, Bent scored a consolation goal but it wasn't enough to catch Villa. We went on to win 2-1, and I was jumping with joy, though discreetly. I do not want to risk getting beaten to a pulp by an angry Spurs mob, so I kept a straight face until we were safely out of White Hart Lane =P

The experience was super, the atmosphere was electric and my EPL cherry-popping could not have been any sweeter. It might not be at Villa Park, but I take whatever I can for now. Thanks Nigel and Ashley for making it a night to remember. Clarets and blues forever, up the Villa!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sore Feet

What a long day.

Started out around 10 with Fahmy and headed to London with no plans at all. Only when we arrived at St Pancras we decided to go visit Arsenal and Chelsea's home grounds. We headed to Holloway Road station first and went around the Emirates Stadium taking some pictures. Then we wanted to go to White Hart Lane as well, but got lost somewhere near Seven Sisters so we took a bus back to Kings' Cross instead.

So shoot me, I'm not an Arsenal fan =P

From there we headed south towards Fulham Broadway. Halfway, we stopped at Green Park to go to Hard Rock Cafe to get some shirts. Lined up for about half an hour just to get in, and by the time we were through, we were a bit knackered from all the walking. What we did then was crossed the road and sat around Hyde Park for a bit.

Since it was only about 4pm, and still a lot of time to go before iftar, we hit the green and took a nap. Yeap, it was a nice day today with the sun out as though it's still summer. Loads of people taking in the sun too. We looked for a quieter spot and actually slept for an hour. We only woke up because it started to get quite chilly.

Then it's time to continue our journey. Went back to Green Park and headed southbound again. Next stop was Knightsbridge, Harrods. Too bad we were fasting since the foodhall looked so inviting. I was practically salivating at the food on display, and the price wasn't so astronomical as I thought. After torturing ourselves with the good food on show, we left and finally headed for Stamford Bridge.
Ohh, I'm no Chelsea fan either. Villa for life!

We got there around 6pm and took more pictures. After that we just hung out at a halal kebab place nearby the stadium. Iftar was a huge lamb kebab and fries with coke, nice. It's actually excellent when compared to the food we're getting here. Not that it's bad, just that having 3 kinds of potatoes every day is a bit too much to handle.

After that, we headed straight for St Pancras to return to St Albans. Managed to take a wrong train, and only reached our destination at about 10.30pm. Met Irene, Wakako-chan, Harris and June too in the train, so we took a cab back together.

Now I'm enjoying my sweet nectarine that I bought at M&S, and watching some lame gameshow on the telly (you wouldn't believe how many gameshows they have on the telly). My feet are hurting so bad, but I bet my bottom dollar my Overnight Foot Treatment lotion will soothe them

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lalala Kerjalah

It's been a busy week.

But first things first. Cooking at Deep was a great experience. My group was under the tutelage of Chef Nick and, we breezed through the menu which I can't remember what it is exactly now. I think Gloria or Tara still has the recipe, I'm gonna get it from them and cook it again back home. Since I was fasting, I didn't even get a chance to try the food. It looked and smelled delicious though.

Then over the weekend we just went to Oxford Street for a little shopping and then I brought Fahmy on a sight seeing tour of London. Funny how I still remember how to get to those places 15 years after I first set foot here. Sunday was spent in Watford, again shopping and killing time.

Then this week, we're supposed to do a presentation in front of some managers at the HQ in Canary Wharf! I don't think I've ever been more nervous to present than this. But I did volunteer to present and I did well enough I guess. But the days leading to the presentation last night was hectic. We worked day and night trying to do all the research and related work. Plus now I'm finally seeing some of these people's ugly side. Nothing takes the best and worst out of people better than pressure.

Today we went up to Marston Vale forest nearby Bedford for a community project. The place was so pretty, but the work we did was nothing short than draining. Since I can't even get a gulp to drink, it's that bit harder. But we did it, and now I'm back in my bed waiting for iftar, which is still almost 2 hours away.

Anyway, things will just get busier after this. The fun and games has ended ladies and gentlemen, now it's time for work. Bleargh.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Firefighting and Girls

The leaves are starting to fall, I guess autumn is finally arriving for sure. It was sunny one day and wet and windy the next for the past few days, but I think summer has finally moved on to greener pastures for now.

Yesterday we went to the Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Training & Development Center in Stevenage for a one day fire fighting related training. One word, superfun! I always had this dream when I was very young that I want to be a fireman when I grow up. Who would've thought that working in a bank would lead me to be a fireman, even for a day. Yeap, I even got to ride in the fire engine, with the sirens blazing ladies and gents. Nothing feels sweeter than a childhood improbable dream coming true, eh? My team (Jim, Ricky, Indri and Nad) ended up 3rd out of 5 in total, so nothing much to shout about. Safe to say we all had fun and enjoyed it tremendously. Ohh, one of the activities include sitting in a metal container while a fire was lighted in front of us. That was to demonstrate the dangers of fire how to be safe in such a fire. Trust me, should a fire happen, don't ever get up. Crawl and get out. There is a reason to it, and I've seen it.

That was fun, though tough. Little did I know that what I'm supposed to do today is much much tougher. We had to teach. I have a family chokeful of teachers, including my parents and both grandads, yet I always felt that I'll be useless in the teaching role. So cue me anxiously wondering what the hell am I gonna do when I'm supposed to teach a class full of 17 year old girls at St Albans Girls School. Yes, they are 17!!! My class when I was 17 was like a warzone, so I dreaded the worse.

Turned out, it wasn't so bad. My group of 4 (Ricky, Gloria and Serena) did quite well I think. The kids were marvellous, they did not misbehave as badly as I thought they would. Of course there's some bad apples but the rest were very cooperative and smart enough for me to respect them as adults. Perhaps the fact that the school is one of the best schools in the area helped, but we all sighed a collective sigh of relief once that was done. The best part is, I did not get any negative feedback at all while amassing quite a list of positive ones. Perhaps I do have the teaching genes in me after all. A career change soon? Don't bank on it.

What's on the plate for tomorrow? Well, ever heard of a restaurant called Deep? It's in Chelsea and it was formerly the set for Gordon Ramsay's cooking show The F Word. Guess what, we're gonna be cooking a four course gourmet meal tomorrow, right in the hallowed kitchen (exaggeration, yeah) of Deep. Won't say much yet, will let you guys in on it when I'm throuhg with it, alright? So tomorrow's team will consist of me, Tara, Ricky (different one this time), Crystal, Kanika, Jim and Stephen. Let's hope we don't kill anyone with our food! Ohh, Gordon won't be there, so I guess we're all spared.

Alright then, gonna go and have a bit of a stroll around the place before berbuka. Selamat berbuka (or sahur if that's your next meal) everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jet-lagged Little Pills

Yawn, I'm still jet-lagged it seems.

This morning after a hearty breakfast, the 5 of us took a cab to Radlett and took the train to St Pancras. Spent the day doing touristy stuff, went to Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Birmingham Palace and finally lunch at Malaysian Hall in Bayswater (in spirit of Merdeka we decided to have nasi lemak there). Sure, I've done it all before the last time I was in the UK but this time with friends it's a bit more fun. Stopped at Boots to get toiletries since I only brought my perfume, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste with me, then at Tesco Express to get some food for sahur/midnight snacking before heading home.

Dinner was quite bland, but the company was brilliant so the food was largely shoved down our throats with not much of a thought. The guys seemed cool enough, so it might be an enjoyable 4 weeks after all. Oh there's even a guy from Bermuda who had to fend off questions of how do people work in a place like Bermuda, that's like an oxymoron or something.

So tomorrow we'll start the first session, don't really know what to expect so we'll see soon enough.

Yeah, I've been updating quite regularly of late haven't I? Boredom people, boredom. Nothing much to do after dinner, most of the guys are still hanging out at the pub but I was too tired to even focus on the footie match on the telly so I left early to take my bath and get ready for bed. Yes I know it's still early, I'm updating to keep me awake =P