Sisters

There’s only one news on telly lately, and it is about the fire in London. If you are not from the UK, and have not heard about the story already, here’s the short version of the news.

A 24 storey tower block caught fire in the middle of the night few days ago. The fire was so big, and spread so fast, the fire department could not get inside and save everybody in time. As the result, many people died, and until the time I am writing this, the officials haven’t been able to announce exactly how many fatalities, and their identification.

The fire was so unexpected, as the UK is probably one of few countries with a very strict building regulations. The investigation is still ongoing, so how exactly things went catastrophically wrong hasn’t been announced. However, this tragedy has lead the re-evaluation to other residential tower blocks in the country, especially those with similar structure and building materials.

Right now, what was the rescue mission, is now a recovery mission. The officials now believe that it is very unlikely that anyone would survive the fire by now. Even the recovery mission is going very slowly, as the integrity of the building itself has now become questionable after the fire. The survivors, the residents, and their family and friends are now very impatient and restless, understandably.

As the recovery mission going, and people waiting, the stories of everybody who are affected by the fire started to trickle. The heroic rescuers, the desperate mothers, the grieving lovers. Every story is painful, but there’s one that feels very personal to me.

There’s a story about three brothers who lived in one of the flat in the building. Two of them were there when the fire started to spread. The older brother told the younger one to run to save himself, just before he himself run towards the think and heavy black smoke. He didn’t look back, I think he was almost passed out himself because he has been inhaling so much smoke.

When he was out, he realised that the younger brother wasn’t with him, so he phoned the younger brother to make sure that he’s escaped as well. He wasn’t. In fact, the younger brother was still in their flat, and trapped there.

“Why didn’t you get out?” the older brother asked.

“Why did you leave me?” the younger brother replied.

The older brother begged the rescuers to save the younger brother, giving them the flat number, but it was too late. The other brother was still connected on the phone, right until the last second — when the phone finally died.

That story.

That particular story saddened me the most, because I have siblings too. My two sisters and I once shared a flat too. The three of us lived in a tower block, probably not to dissimilar to this one in London. So, when I heard this story, I couldn’t help thinking of my sisters, and how I would feel if I was in the position of the older brother.

What if I lost my sister in such a tragedy? Even thinking about it made me extemely sad.

Unfortunately it is not too long until I will see them again. Time to refuel my spaceship for a quick visit…

 

The Magical City Of Edinburgh

Nossur! I am not trying to be overly dramatic by saying that. But let me ask you one thing… Are you a Potterhead? Well then, do you know that Edinburgh is actually the birthplace of The Boy Who Lived? Well then… if you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain it to you in muggle terminology: “Edinburgh is actually the city where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter”.

Legend has it that J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter while sitting down at The Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh. The cafe has the spot overlooking the Edinburgh Castle, and it’s been said that it was then the lady herself breathed the life into the boy wizard.

Well… I am not a massive fan myself, so I didn’t get in to the cafe. In my defence, the cafe was jam packed with Potterheads, and my phone was dying, so all I wanted at that time was to find a place to sit and plug. So apologies for not getting photos.

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But you know what? I am not surprised that Ms. Rowling got her inspiration in this city. Not only by looking at the magnificent looking castle, I believe. The city itself offers an unlimited number of inspiration — the kind of inspiration that actually urge you to write, if you are into writing.

No, I am not overselling it, I bought a notepad because somehow I had so many thing in my head to write down, random stuff. In the hand of a more capable author, I won’t be surprised that it could end up as ten magical years of Harry Potter.

I mean, look at it. The castle, the cathedral, all the museums… the people… As someone who’s got an unhealthy appetite to languages, my ears were constantly spoiled with foreign languages around me. If I closed my eyes (I didn’t, by the way — for safety reasons, obviously) I could hear them chattering in different dialects, and languages. All of them… are aliens there. For that magical moment, I felt the sense of belonging — that I wasn’t the only alien.

That’s my personal magic moment, of course.

But, what if you don’t do Harry Potter (or you don’t read at all), and you don’t like language like me (or you don’t care about things like that)? Could you find magic in Edinburgh? Sure you can…

You know who does magic? Yes… yes… white magic, black magic? WITCHES! Yes!

If you are into that sort of thing, there are billions of ghost tours and witch hunt tour and show scattered all over the oldtown. I didn’t do it though, I though I saved it until I go back there again with my grumpkins, preferably not during the summer though…

First World..thoughts and grumps

Well…

I was initially going to have a grumpy outraged rant about some news that I heard recently. The news that here in the UK old married couples are sometimes split up and sent to different nursing homes.

I have to admit that nowadays I’m a pretty apathetic bastard a lot of the time and not much about humanity surprises me. But this bit of news actually got to me. I was genuinely outraged that this kind of thing can happen in a first World Country.

And then…. I remembered how privileged I am to be in a first world country.

Most of my life has been spent with my head pretty much in the sand (or with it up my arse?) and “world events” as well as “the other persons perspective” never really entered my head. I had for a long time given up following news and politics because its pretty much depressing (oh, and I rant about newspapers and biased or “silly” reporting).

Meeting and getting to know my beautiful alien has changed all that.

I was lucky enough to travel to her country and it opened my eyes. At least it did when I stopped thinking “first world expectations and rights”. I heard about some of the countries turbulent history too and how it affected my beautiful alien, her family, and a good amount of the countries population.

While I was there I saw a totally different way of life and values. It has made me realise just how lucky I am and just how lucky people in the UK are.

The UK government (and the news media) put out statistics of how the NHS is “failing”, for example. Some people have to wait over 4 hours to be seen.

I know it’s not as black and white as this but… the people are waiting for a free service. The doctors and nurses are busting their proverbial balls to heal people and everyone gets outraged if it takes “too long”.

Fuck me, Id rather wait for several hours knowing that someone will look after me (for free) rather than not get proper decent medical attention, or not get any treatment/medicine at all because I cannot afford it.

Sometimes I think that people have been “given” so much that some people scream about their “rights” if they are denied a luxury…. oooh, that can easily turn into an entire grumpy ranting post about having to work hard to get things in life, not expect them to be handed to you.

Its good to remind myself (or get reminded) of this occasionally. I know that for “first world people” first world problems can seem awful but at least we (here in the UK) are relatively safe and secure as we go about our day-to-day lives. We can walk the streets in (relative) safety, we are secure in the knowledge (even if we don’t always realise it) that whatever happens to us there is some authority or organisation that will pick us up if we fall and look after us. We don’t have to deal with corruption, nor see it as “a way of life” when dealing with authorities or corporations.

Oh, and we can turn on a tap pretty much anywhere and expect not to get sick off the water (and if the water is dubious [small risk of being a bit ill after drinking it] there will be a bloody big sign behind the tap telling us “not drinking water”).

 

I have no idea why I wrote all of that. It’s just my own thoughts and observations (as I see them). I love my little country and it’s interesting to see the differences between it and others around the world.

Feeding the Alien Pt.1

One of the best thing of being an alien in a new place is that I got to try new stuff. And my favourite new stuff to try is the food. I am still discovering new tastes here in the UK, even after being here for almost six years. And the last one I tried was Hot Cross Bun… t’was Easter and I was curious — and the bun was okay.

If I have to make a list of the best food I have tried in the UK, it would take forever. So I will just pick my favourite 5 of food I have tried for the past 6 years in the UK. It is not an easy task, and I don’t care if anyone has ever bothered to challenge me to make this list, but… challenge’s accepted.

5. Eton Mess
I learned about this food on my first summer ever in the UK, and it was called so because allegedly it is originally from Eton — yes, the posh school. Eton Mess is basically strawberry, in whipped cream, and a messy crumble of meringue. I had that all summer, almost everyday… and I did blame contraception when I put on some weight when I went back to my hometown.
Eton Mess is the dessert that woke the sweettooth in me. Something that I never was. It is like a gateway drug, that lead you to a massive selection to British favourite desserts: creme caramel, apple/rhubarb/pear crumble, egg tart, banoffee pie, bakewell… No I am no cake person, but I am a sucker to pastries. And it started from a bite of Eton Mess..
What a messy diet…

4. Marmite
I learned about it just days after I arrived in the UK, it is apparently a part of the introduction to Britain for the foreign student. Yes… Marmite is quintessentially British. However, the way it was introduced, didn’t really invoke my curiosity. I mean, yes they told me it is something that either you will love or hate… but I have to say that if these people are a marketing officer, they need to be sacked immediately.
It’s just when my grumpy husband, who also happens to be a proud English grumpyman talk about what it is about to be British, that the conversation about Marmite came up again. He was aghast knowing that nobody has ever introduced me to Marmite before.
Yes, it is still something you either love or hate… I just happen to love it.
P.S. Do you know that in Malaysia, you can order Marmite Chicken? Yes… if you happen to be in Malaysia right now, and you love Marmite, and you have never tried Marmite Chieken (or Chicken Marmite? Now I am confused)… go to a Chinese food restaurant, you might be lucky enough to find one. Good luck!

Ha ha… I stop it right there… for now. I know that it sucks, but I learned from the British telly programs, that when you make lists of whatever, you need to stop before going to the top 3. I don’t know why… but I am a good learner. So… see you next time for the top 3 😀

Weather Wonders

Where I came from, there is no winter. The days are either sunny and dry, or slightly wet to a little bit flooded. The temperature ranges from warm enough to get your bread dough happy, to hot enough to fry a sunny side on the pavement. I used to like cloudy days, because it means that the slightly cooler wind would slip through the opened windows. I used to love the rainy days, especially that moment before the rain falls, and you can smell it… the smell of the rain.

The smell of the rain, though… That idea used to be very romantic. Until QI popped the bubble for me. Apparently it’s just the smell of the fungi being frisky. I wish I have never known that, because now everytime I thought of the smell of the rain… I am actually smelling fungal sex.

Ew!

ANYHOO…

Spring, eh? Try again… Pic taken last month by the way…

The reason I wanted to say something about weather is that it is apparently the favourite topic of conversation in Britain. I didn’t know why, because coming from a place where weather is pretty much predictable, weather is a quite a mundane topic. However this is not the same here in the UK.

It is hailing outside. In April.

You saw strawberries on the shelves, they are in season. You saw the flowers blooming. You think it is spring, don’t you? Especially because it is bloody April. You would have thought the day of scraping frost from your car window the first thing in the morning before going to work was over. But nope, my dear Watsons… not here in the UK.

Overnight, the temperature dropped, the wind had changed and that warm clothing you thought you would never see again until September is back on the rack.

Bloody hail… (was going to go out to take video of it… but… yeah right)

Is this how the universe is punishing us for voting for Brexit? If this is how they’re trying to give us cold shoulder… phew… what a shoulder. Maybe someone deliberately forgot to send the memo to the Great Britain to start Spring-ing.

Oh well… Luckily, I am indoors… I wonder how Grumpy would grump tonight when he come home from work… That would be interesting 😀

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