Saturday, September 29, 2007

Making Sushi without Auntie Yasmin..

My daughters suka sangat makan 'sushi'. They had the opportunity to learn how to make 'makanan Jepun' tu when we were in Boston - Yasmin lah yang suka sangat melayan dia orang with all her fancy recipees: French...?, Italian...?, Mexican...?, Indian? you name it... Sedap2 pulak tuu...Well, they don't have Auntie Yasmin to guide them this time , now that we are here in San Jose. They only have me! The one who prefers to eat rice with curry, sambal and ikan goreng and not wrapped up in seaweed or topped with raw fish!. Rather then buying prepared 'sushi' from the shop which I suggest to 'pass', they decided to do it themselves. To get the stuff to make 'sushi' is very3 easy here.. banyak sungguh Asian grocery shops in San Jose. We bought ours at Hankook Supermarket down El Camino Real, in Sunnyvale - an establishment run by Koreans. Kita kena beli la tikar buluh kecik tu untuk peralatan menggulung. Rice is of the soft kind...Yasmin says beras 'yasmine' will do.. Masak nasi macam biasa, then masa panas2 tu renjis kan 'sushi vinegar'. Kacau sehingga rata. Kemudian letak atas seaweed - yang kami beli namanya Yaki Nori.. Didalam nya kita boleh letak crab strips, cucumber strips, avocado, carrot strips...kemudian gulung ketat2. Bila dah ready, potong dan makan bersama2 kicap sushi, halia or even wasabe.....Yasmin letak some other ingredient along with the vinegar...but we forgot what it was.. Anyhow, my daughters say macam ni pun dah sedaaap...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hello...San Jose...

Flight from Logan Airport Boston, Massachusetts to San Jose Airport, California that Sunday afternoon mengambil masa hampir 7 jam. That is how far the two cities are..Note the caption of US map below taken from my seat's display panel - one can do wonders with a digital camera! Seronok....
Untuk sesiapa yang tak ambil Ilmu Alam bab Amerika Syarikat masa kecik2 dulu, ini lah gambaran peta negara tersebut dimana Massachusetts is on the east coast and California is located on the west coast of United States...Time difference between San Jose and Boston is 3 hours terkemudian. Jadi dengan Malaysia perbezaan nya 15 jam. Kalau kat San Jose pukul 7pagi hari Isnin, member kat Malaysia dah nak masuk tidur - pukul 10malam hari tersebut. Dan....pagi raya kat sana, kami di sini masih belum buka puasa. Hish...sedih jugak nuuu. Kami menaiki one of US many domestic carrier - JetBlue.
Service was not least we got more than peanuts. The steward (pramugara) understood that we were fasting & he began bringing in food to us only when it was time for breaking fast.This is one 'mat salleh' who got out of his peanut shell! Alhamdulillah kami selamat sampai di San Jose. We stayed in Double Tree Hotel which is just walking distance to my husband's office. Likewise in Boston, the process of handing over takes place during this time. Double Tree Hotel is a family of Hilton's, but what's funny is that the rooms don't come with a fridge - pelik kan? Normally we'ld see a small fridge at the bottom of the coffee maker and condiments. Anyway, eating out is no problem in San Jose. Banyak restoran yang caters for muslims - ada Chinese, Moroccon, Turkish, Pakistan and Malaysian ( Red Kuali runs by a Malay lady). Just a note on the amount of baggages that are allowed by US carriers: only 2 pieces of luggage to be checked-in per person. Each luggage must not exceed 50pounds. Rasa nya berat tuu.. tapi kami masih kena excess baggage.. of course la kalau rice cooker, comforters and seterika pun masuk sekali!

I even brought along ketupat segera & serunding - just in case our stuff from Boston terlajak sampai selepas Raya. I think the ketupat segera is very much sinonim to Melayu as I found nothing of its kind at any of the Asian grocery shops - be it Thai, Chinese, or Koreans. And the Melayu or Indonesian community here doesn't have the volume for our delicacies to be imported in. I am surprised to find a halal meat & groceries shop run by an Afghan family here in San Jose known as California Halal Market. Even the Afghans are growing in numbers here....the Chinese, Indians, Koreans & Japanese jangan cakap laa.. I might be wrong in my assumption of predominantly Spanish speaking people in my previous posting ....
San Jose was founded in 1777 as El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. It was California's first civilian settlement and was California's first capital in 1849. Currently, it is the information capital of Silicon Valley. San Jose has grown to be Northern California's largest city - even larger than San Francisco, that "other city" just 45 minutes in the north. San Jose is the 10th largest city in US - hard to believe looking at the size and state of San Jose International Airport. Growth has been more horizontal than vertical so it lacks the normal cluster of towering skyscrapers. It is the heart of Silicon Valley with big names such as ebay, Adobe, Apple, McAfee, HP (Agilent) & Cisco to boast.....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bye Boston...

Marriott Long Wharf, Boston was once again our home for 5 days 4 nights before our departure to San Jose ( di sebut San Ho-say ) on Sunday Sept 23rd. The hotel is located at the edge of Boston's Historic Northend, just beside the harbour and having the New England Aquarium as its neighbour. The Northend is also known as "Little Italy" and this area has seen folds of changes from the days of the early immigrants. Quincy Market & Fanueil Hall are just across the road from Marriott, but the best priced souveniers we found are from the stalls/vendors located on Marriott side of the road.. Besides job handover at the office, all 'loose ends' must be cleared and settled before we make our move. Our stuff have been packed and taken by the movers to be delivered to the new destination. The house lease was amended and the house transfered to the new officer-in-charge, along with the keys to the car. Anis had her last violin lesson - I guess Peter Kryssa was sorry to see her go and also missing the weekly $50 per 45 mins fee that I normally handed to him in the Raya Packet, which he has taken a liking to. Atiqah had also said her goodbyes to friends and teachers at Newton South High School. A pewter miniature of Petronas Twin Towers & a Sarawak Table Lamp were our show of appreciation to the school. They seemed to like the gifts & we hope conversations will be driven towards Malaysia whenever anyone sees them. We also had the pleasure of being guests for dinner or breaking of fast at friends' homes during these last few days in Boston.. The initial plan for us treating them fall out at the last minute. Thank you to Sairah & James Glick, Kartini & Sabri Mohd Zain and last but not least Yasmin & Giles Saulnier for the lovely feasts. Not forgetting Zarina for her treat at a restaurant nearby....

James tired out from barbeque-ing.....

Hassan Basri Bin Sabri at his bessst...

Having tea with Yasmin & Giles after a hearty dinner....

Too bad we didn't have pictures with Amin Shah, Nusrat & the twins (Asma & Amir) who graciously brought back food stuff for us from their holiday in Malaysia.

Gracias Amigas....adios!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Missing Boston...part1

Hujung bulan September ni kami akan berpindah ke San Jose, California. I don't know how it would be like over there but everyone I talked to, have everything good to say about San Jose. Mild weather...friendly people......of course, they'll be more internationals especially Spanish speaking. And I hear there are many Malaysians too over there. But, I am already begining to like's sad to leave everyone that I know here, like the Sostilios our landlord, who live in the house at the back & who have been very2 nice to us. Fernando, age 70 is like a 'rock' of the family & to his tenants. Every minor 'leak' or 'loose' in the house will be fixed in no time. He would keep us safe from the slippery & icy snow in front & around our houses during winter. Without him piles of snow wouldn't be 'ploughed' and shoveled. In summer the grasses, plants & trees around his property appreciate him too. The grounds of his houses would be adorned with flowers; a few even have names unfamiliar to me. I love the hibiscus grown just outside my front window. Hibiscus really reminds me of home... but, I have never seen the size of them like the ones on the left! I will never forget, his usual " How ARe ya...? " whenever he sees us..., or the Russo trips he used to take us for fresh vegies. He was willing to help out during the time when both my children had to take TOEFL & SAT at two different test centers; and sat with me until my son safely entered the hall. His backbone is of course Anna who I think, doesn't have even an ounce of evil in her; walks 'religiously' every mornings and evenings. She'll take a hooded jacket if it snows, carries an umbrella if it rains and a flashlight if she goes out later in the evening - come rain or shine, but walk she must! Normally she goes walking with Menina, her good friend....I use to follow them when in the 'mood' & we'ld catchup on the days' activities. Our favourite spot is on top of the hill where the Andover Theological School is located. In the middle is a beautiful courtyard lined with oaktrees. The school's oneway private road runs around the courtyard. We'ld walk in the middle of the road circling the courtyard many times breathing in the hill's unpolluted fresh crisp cool air, while exchanging stories. To the north of the courtyard is a Chapel just newly opened, Anna said it's not a church & anybody can practice their religion within...well..., I don't know. To the south is a library that faces the Chapel. Cars would enter from the right of the library and exit on its left. For those walking can enter the area from either sides. To the right of the courtyard are apartments for staff & students; Theological School is a place to study religion. I am not sure whether there are any Muslim students but once during maghrib time, I heard athan coming from one of the rooms. I was sure it was the same as the Islamic Finder - athan installed in our PCs. But then again, I wonder .. On the left of the courtyard are offices and lecture halls. The Principal's house is located on the front leftside just as we enter the area from the left. The road extends to the back of the Chapel where we can view houses at the foot of the hill. A newly completed project of terraced houses uncommon here - but typical to the ones back home, makes me 'homesick' everytime I go to the spot. The cool, serene & calm atmosphere would rejuvenate any 'troubled' souls..Sometimes I would walk with hubby to the spot. Anna reminds us not to talk on any financial matters while we are there. I would miss the spot... But most of all I would miss 10, Beecher PL especially the window in the basement, - you see beside the side door, where I do all my crafts & writing...

Missing Boston...part 2

I feel so sad as the day approaches for us to move to San Jose. I know I will miss all my friends here as I do all my friends back home. 9 months is too short a time to meet many people; but, the ones that I have begun to get to know are more than just friends.

'Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget. "



Friend: calls your parents by mr. and mrs.
Best friend: calls your parents dad & mom or auntie & uncle...
Friend: has never seen you cry
Best friend: has always has the best shoulder to cry on
Friend: never asks for anything to eat or drink
Best friend: opens the fridge & makes themself at home
Friend: asks you to write down your number.
Best friend: they ask you for their number (cuz they can't remember it)
Friend: borrows your stuff for a few days then gives it back.
Best friend: has a closet full of your stuff
Friend: only knows a few things about you
Best friend: could write a biography on your life story
Friend : will leave you behind if that is what the crowd is doing
Best friend: will always go with you
Friend: will ask where you've been (after going AWOL)
Best Friend: will say I MISS YOU & goes on being your friend
Friend: would just read this post
Best friend: will send a comment and mail to all their on-line buddies

Missing Boston...part 3

Another that I will truly miss is my eldest; who has started classes in Northeastern University here. When everything seemed a dead end, alhamdulillah Allah answered our prayers.... Macam satu 'load off' our shoulders when the U offered him an On-Campus room. At least he has a place to stay, and class is just 15 minutes walking distance. Of course, my friends tried to help and I am glad orang melayu kita masih kaya dengan 'budi bahasa'. Itu yang membezakan di antara 'kita' dengan 'mereka' dan kita tidak semestinya menjadi seperti 'mereka'. Teringat pulak pada orang tua-tua atau orang kampung dulu-dulu yang sangat menghargai tetamu. I am glad my parents were one of them.. minta ma'ap lah ya, sempit sikit semak pulak tu..., ini jer la yang ada. Tetamu tu rezeki kata nya... Alhamdulillah, everything works out fine and we can move with peace at heart knowing my son will be warmly received in all of my friends' homes here.

I told my son he's lucky to have a room-mate whose mother supplies him the microwave, toaster, flatscreen TV & PS2.... saves us all the trouble too!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Salam Ramadhan...

Alhamdulillah, kita akan bertemu lagi Ramadhan.
Ramadhan kali ni tiada Pasar untuk di selusuri dan tiada beg plastik mengelilingi jari-jari.
Tiada ikan percik, ikan bakar, atau sambal sembilang...
tiada kuih muih atau bubur lambuk untuk dibawa pulang.
Ramadhan kali ni di harap lebih bererti
kerana tiada sesak yang harus di harungi
Akan kehidupan bersama yang tidak mengerti
Di negara Mat Salleh ini...
Selamat menyambut Ramadhan semua.....

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Greyhound to New York City

The Greyhound is a breed of dog used for hunting and racing. Greyhounds are among the fastest running of all dogs, with their long legs and lanky frames. They are commonly known for their use on the racetrack, where they can reach speeds up to 45mph (72km/h). On Friday Aug 24th the children and me went up the Greyhound to New York City. It was easy getting a bus ticket here, just go to and click your way through. Mula-mula tu takut jugak kena tipu but I couldn't resist the 'harga'. Counter tickets cost US35 per person one way whereas e-tickets only cost US15 ! It was so good of my dear friend Sairah to send us to South Station, Boston. We had to be there one hour before the scheduled time to join the queue. I felt quite relieved upon seeing several of the other passengers holding the printed copy of the e-ticket. Yang pelik tu, once we get into queue, it becomes first come first to be seated pulak. The journey from Boston to New York normally takes 4hrs 30mins but since the bus driver decided not to make a stop along the way, our Greyhound ride was only 4 hours. Thus, one hour earlier than our scheduled arrival at Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City located at the corner of 8th Avenue & 42nd Street in Manhattan. The bus station is huge, banyak tingkat! Note the CCTVs in the middle of the two escallators...hmmm. We had to look around for the exit to 42nd Street where Roy promised to wait. I told my children, berjalan kena tunjuk confident like you already know where you want to go. I guess it worked since it kept the ulat2 taxi away from us! Many have mentioned the ease of going around New York City. Manhattan in particular....senang sebab the city is made up of blocks..verticals are the avenues and horizontals are the streets..& transportation is undeniably good. Of course, put on your best walking shoes! You can set up rendezvous places such as " meet me at the corner of 7th Avenue & 42nd" or " the corner of Broadway & 43rd" and so forth. The streets are named East & West from 5th Avenue. Makna nya, looking from the South ataupun from Lower Manhattan, E42 Street will be to the right of 5th Avenue and W42 Street to the left. Strangely enough, we did not experience or meet with any problems when walking along 42nd Street or when in the subways... alhamdulillah. One would expect differently from NYC after 911 incident! Maybe it's that part of town...Well, I don't know. What I noticed most were the people on the streets - friendly and mainly internationals. I guess, making us one of them!

Trams, subways & buses in New York

Taking the tram from Rooservelt Island to 2nd Avenue, 59th Street Manhattan... Tram ni di jalankan oleh seorang 'driver'. Kerja dia bawa tram tersebut pergi dan balik, tiap2 hari secara rutin. Macam senang kan? But not without risiko. Kalau kat Malaysia, kita panggil cable car - bergerak terapung-apung di udara. Tinggi!!! Dibawah? The East River.. Tahun lepas ada insiden di mana tram ni berhenti separuh jalan di udara dan penumpang terperangkap selama beberapa jam. Saiz nya agak besar seperti saiz mini bas. Yang bagus nya, sikit pun tak bergoyang walaupun terasa angin bertiup kencang. Harga tiket 2 dollar satu ride. Lepas naik tram, kami 'transfer' naik bas untuk ke 2nd Avenue, 42nd Street. Jalan kaki sikit ke 43rd Street di mana terdapat pejabat Malaysian Consulate dan pejabat Malaysian Permanent Mission ke United Nations. Jalan kaki sikit lagi, dan turun tangga melintasi jalan ke UN building. After visiting United Nations, we headed back to 42nd Street. Nak ikut jalan lain, kami tak 'arif dengan New York ni, lagi pun it was only me and the children. Thank goodness, they caught up fast in understanding the transportation system here. Kalau ikut kan this lady...memang la 'blur' memanjang.

Question Mark
We decided to walk along 42nd Street di mana terdapat nya Broadway & Times Square. From there we could also view Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building at a distance. Rasa nya, the Empire State Building used to be one of the tallest building, tapi sekarang ia nya menjadi 'dwarf' di kelilingi other 'giants'. Teringat pulak si gorilla yang memanjat bangunan tersebut dalam cerita King Kong! Grand Central Station, one of US National Landmarks is also located along 42nd Street. Ia nya adalah salah satu stesen keretapi penumpang jarak jauh yang terbesar di dunia pada satu ketika dahulu; dari segi jumlah platfom dan trek. Grand Central Station is also a rendezvous or meeting place for many as there are also a large number of shops and restaurants available. Senibina dan ukiran siling nya dikatakan satu heritage. Teringat pulak pada Stesen Keretapi Tanah Melayu yang terletak di tengah-tengah Bandaraya KL - juga sebuah warisan.

A map view of New York subway system...

United Nations Head Quarters, New York

The United Nations Head Quarters in New York is located from 1st Avenue to FDR Drive, 405 East 42nd to East 48th. Construction of the 39 floor 544 ft tall building took place between 1949 and 1951 and it was officially opened on January 9, 1951.The design for the United Nations complex was drawn by an international committee of architects, the United Nations Board of Design. The international style was chosen by the board members as it symbolized a new start after the second World War. The UN site is an international territory that has it's own fire dept, security force and postal service. Along 1st Avenue in front of the United Nations Headquarters is a display of flags from each member of the UN. It starts with Afghanistan at 48th street and ends with Zimbabwe at 42nd street. Flags are only flown whenever there are any council meetings for the day and unfortunately, that Saturday the flags were not flying...I guess it was a disappointment too for the other multinationals who patiently waited/queued with us at the front gate of the UN visitors' entrance. My son was wondering kenapa semua nya bercakap dalam bahasa sendiri bila nak masuk UN, termasuk lah kami anak beranak....terdengar French, Spanish, Japanese, Indian, Mandarin & bahasa lain yang tak faham...hmm, we were entering international territory, right? Lagi pun kita tak nak orang lain tahu apa yang kita cakap, biasa la kan kutuk mengutuk di negeri 'mat salleh' ni - oops...teringat pulak a passing remark made by someone upon seeing us hurriedly crossing the street down the stairs from E43rd ... " lari Malaysia lari..." I couldn't make out who he was - thought he might be from China or yang sewaktu dengan nya. While we were so conspicuous and easily recognised, others could just pass as another nationality. I have always said, out of frustration " Apa la UN ni buat? " or " Kofi Annan ni tak buat kerja kut...", oh yes, his tenure dah over people.. and the seat is taken by a Korean whose name slipped my mind. But still curiosity is there in us all. Tours inside the UN are all guided - kena bayar pula tu. 13 dollars for adult, 11.50(? not sure) for students and 7.50 for 14 and below. Buat duit juga UN ni! At last, the gates opened at 10am. As you enter the Plaza grounds you will see one of the UN's signature pieces of art, a gun with a knot in the barrel. The knotted gun, donated by Luxembourg ten years ago, this piece is called 'Non-Violence'.There are many more art pieces of international exhibits in the park beside UN Plaza which were worth looking at but we didn't want to miss the queue so we headed on to the security area. Security check was rigorous macam kat airport but I didn't mind as we don't have anything to hide. Our Tour Guide was a UN staff from Japan, we had to strain our ears hard because of her Japanese accent. She was a no nonsense lady but very informative in a wide range of information on both the history and day to day running of the UN. There were chuckles and laughter coming from other groups, but ours however, was more disciplined! She kept the 20-something of us together and quizzed us along the way. She even made me explain on the purpose of 'tepak sirih' and 'keris', the present from Malaysia to the UN. Very beautifully crafted gold pewter! United Nations is central to global efforts to solve problems that challenge humanity. Cooperating in this effort are more than 30 affiliated organizations, known together as the UN system. Day in and day out, the UN and its family of organizations work to promote respect for human rights, protect the environment, fight disease and reduce poverty. But all we hear are ONly UN's peace keeping efforts! Image of the infamous UN Security Council on the right. There is also the Trusteeship Council, the Economic & Social Council and the General Assembly where all the Heads of countries gathered. I hear there is going to be some UN activity soon in September.
One of the most popular tourist activities here in UN Plaza is sending mail and postcards with UN stamps, which can only be mailed from the United Nations.

If ever, or whenever one is in New York, don't miss out on United Nations. It's a must go see!