Sunday, 31 July 2005

The Vege Market / Asian Market

This morning we went to the Asian market as the Asians call it and the vege market as the locals call it. It is in the city inside a car park.

There were so many Chinese traders that it actually felt a little like home i.e. Petaling Street. The vegetables we found here were huge by our standards. Some were like nothing we have ever seen! Just potatoes, there were 5 varieties - white, brown, pink, washed and the usual ones.

Here are some pictures of from the Victoria Street vegetable market.

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And some of the vegetable found at the market...

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Saturday, 30 July 2005

A new car anyone?

Look what we spotted today in Wellington?

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Friday, 29 July 2005

Another move?

Just when we knew we were getting our stuff, we saw this lovely house nestled in the hills overlooking valley, we were interested in! It had everything we were wanting and at a price that was at the tip of affordability. Actually one more dollar and I would have been forced to take up another job!

The process here in NZ is quite different. If we were interested, we had to make an offer in writing (the seller doesn't say how much - you will need to use your best guestimate) through their lawyers. We being green horns as we are, offered them a price below the market value. Then they counter offered with a price which if we took, we would have to sell all the stuff that just arrived.

This process of negotiation went on for a week or so, back and forth, all in writing where we striked out the price they put and re-wrote a new price, and they did the same. During this time, we were not allowed to speak to them directly. Finally at the end of the week, the negotiation ended and we agreed on a price that would not make us bankrupt and them still having cash at the end of the deal. This process ended today at 5pm.

And this is the home we fell in love with!

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This is the view from the living area.

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Vera went to the local council to check the title and council approvals. She was shocked to find that it reminded her so much of a Malaysian JKR office, and two oldies working there. She enquired about the house we were planning to buy and they gave her a file containing everything we needed to know. It took all of 10 minutes for this!

Now our lawyers are doing the paper work in making sure the title can be transferred to our names. If every thing goes smoothly, we are expecting to move into our new home by August 12! All this usually takes about 2 - 4 weeks and can even be finalised in 48 hours, we were told. This includes money payments and transfer of titles! What speed!

For the time being, we are sleeping on our own mattress but on the floor and not on a bed. Our clothes are still in suitcases and boxes, not in cupboards. Two of our rooms are filled with boxes. Just another 2 weeks and another box opening ceremony. And with all that comes, learning new things like building a fire to keep ourselves warm.

We dread to think of calling the same guys to move our boxes to our new home just 1.5 km away!

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Santa Clause arrives

It felt like Santa just arrived! Our container was released today and all our stuff came home. Santa did not arrive riding a snow sled but this 20 foot truck!

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164 boxes of all shapes, sizes and weight! There were 4 guys moving the stuff and was cursing the weight of the stuff all the way. One of them said there should be a weight limit for the stuff they pack at the other end. One of the boxes said "soft toys" but it was so heavy which made him comment that probably the soft toys were filled with sand!

Now the whole house is filled with boxes!

Monday, 25 July 2005

Mid year Christmas

Well, yes! In New Zealand there is such a thing as mid year Christmas. It is actually an event although I was expecting a holiday.

A few days ago, as I was walking back from lunch, I saw the bank I was working with decorating a Christmas tree at the foyer. I thought I was lost in time. It is only July and the Christmas I know was like 5 months away.

Later I found out that since it will be summer during the actual Christmas in December, New Zealanders "celebrate" a winter Christmas in June / July as a mid year function. Although it is not a public holiday, it is a celebration by any means. Most of the departments at BNZ had lunches and dinners as part of the mid year function.

My department went out to a nice Indian restaurant in Courtney Place for lunch at 1.30pm. I thought lunch meant lunch but found out that it took the most part of the afternoon and evening. The "lunch" ended at 5.00pm!

Sunday, 17 July 2005

The world's largest finger painting!

This morning at 7.30am the four of us went over to Porirua City for a New Zealand attempt at the world's largest finger painting...

Just after the 48 hour fame Ashwini had yesterday, we braved the cold morning and went in our warmest clothing to join the thousands already there since 6.30am and forming a 1km queue outside the Porirua Recreation Centre.

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After about 90 minutes in the queue, with every facet of Kiwi life, young and old, thin and fat, tall and short, black and white (with some shades of grey in between), carrying others and being carried! We had the nation's TV stations, radio stations and the newspapers all there. And among the crowd, even the Prime Minister!

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Saturday, 16 July 2005

Stardom in New Zealand!

Who would have guessed that Ashwini would be appear in a New Zealand widely read newspaper? But she did!

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She was at a local library in Tawa, yesterday, listening to Harry Porter stories recited (this is done twice a week, every week - just this school holidays it was Harry Porter books). And apparently she was the “cutest” of the younger kids there! So the local Dominion Post took her aside and took some pictures and asked her some questions! And….she appears on today’s edition! Front page some more!!!

A few weeks back, we were in Mitre 10 one weekend and this guys walks to us and said…”we are celebrating Porirua City’s 40th anniversary next month and I am looking for people born in each of the 40 years to talk about their life here. So, was wondering if you would allow your son to take part in this programme”. That was really nice but too bad we couldn't participate. One, Anil was not born in New Zealand and two, we don’t live in Porirua.

This is the one thing I like most about this country. The people here don’t see what colour your skin is or what ethnic group you belong to. They see you as you are! Plain and simple. Which is so different from where we come from!

When I first started work here in Wellington, every non Caucasian I meet, I would be curious to find our where they came from, but no one was interested to find out if I just arrived or have been in this country for 40 years! It made no difference to anyone. Wherever I went, I was treated as another Kiwi (although I am not).

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Where is our stuff???

When we shipped our stuff from Malaysia in May, we were told by the forwarders that our 20 foot container will arrive in Wellington by the June 19! We were even given the name of the vessel that was to carry our personal belongings! We were impressed and this company we hired to do all this was a subsidiary of a public listed company, KC Dat! Who would have guessed that they would mess things up?

It is now middle of July and we still have not gotten our stuff! We have been chasing everyone possible in the chain but nothing seem to move.

The story is that KC Dat has not paid their counterpart in New Zealand for over 6 months and as a result, the agents in New Zealand do not want to release our goods, making us chase KC Dat on their behalf!

After so many phone calls to Malaysia, we are still awaiting for the stuff to be released. This is so disappointing because, KC Dat is so irresponsible. They are not answering our calls and neither are they interested in resolving this issue. They got their money, so why bother?

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

A pattern with Asians…

I am not generalising here. That will be the last thing I would do! But there is a pattern with Asians coming to New Zealand. Actually you see that all over the world, not just here…

When you see a corner neighbourhood news stand or a dairy, 9 out of 10 times, it is run by an Indian or someone of Indian descent.

When you see a not necessarily corner, neighbourhood take away, 9 out of 10 times…actually I think it is 10 out of 10 as I have yet to see an odd one, it is run by a Chinese or someone of Chinese descent. They will sell “English Fish & Chips” but still operated by a Chinese. They will sell Malaysian “Nasi Gorang” but still operated by a Chinese. They will sell “Beef Rendang” but still operated by a Chinese.

Another odd thing is, 6 out of 10 Malaysian take away’s are not run by Malaysians let alone someone who has been to Malaysia. I know that since they don’t speak any decent Malay and I said 6 out of 10 as there are Malaysians running authentic Malaysian restaurants here! Next time, I must ask them if they know where Malaysia is on a map!

I pass by a taxi stand outside the Ibis Hotel on Featherston St here in Wellington twice a day to and from work, and again 9 out of 10 taxis I see parked there are driven by someone of African descent!

Slightly off the subject here, every time I touch down in London, I see a man wearing a turban welcoming you to the UK at the immigration but I have not seen that here. A cloth merchant in Malaysia or Indonesia would in all likelihood be someone from India, but not here. Someone who sells carpets in Malaysia would hail from Pakistan or the Middle East, again not the case here.

It is kind of weird seeing a construction site not filled with Indonesians. Not seeing nannies wearing the familiar blue uniform, carrying babies and trotting behind parents. Not seeing people going gaga when a politician turns up somewhere. Not seeing the police, bodyguards and outriders when the Prime Minister walks in (I actually met her once). Not seeing drivers so obligingly open the rear doors for their bosses who are too busy to open the door or that ever so important businessman who has better things to do than carry his own briefcase. Maybe I haven’t been around that much but in a month here, these are my observation.

Sunday, 10 July 2005

Mom the hairdresser

It has been a month since we are here and it has been a month since I cut my hair! Hmmmm…. It takes all of one month for my already short hair to grow to a length where annoyance starts to set in.

We scouted around for a barber in Wellington. Oh there were plenty but I could not find my neighbourhood Indian barber! All the Indians here open diary shops and news stands. There is a pattern actually, but will come to that in another thread… Since there were no Indian barbers, I enquired from some of the local ones. The cheapest was $10 for a hair cut, and that was for children below 12. For those of you who have seen me, the barber doesn’t actually have a lot of hair to deal with and $10???

What shall I do? We had a round table discussion over this. Actually we have a rectangle table but a rectabgle table discussion doesn’t have a ring to it. Anyway, the conclusion was to cut our own hair.

We went to Mitre 10 (a Hadimart DIY variety here) and picked up a hair cut set with all the frills thrown in and electric, all for only $18.69. I can’t cut my own hair, can I? But Vera was not brave enough to start with mine. So, our 6 year old was to be the guinea pig! Of course he doesn’t know that his Daddy was a greenhorn when it came to cutting hair.

After about 10 minutes of fidgeting with his head, he still looked presentable although I must say a little off balance but its school holidays now! So by the time he goes to school in 2 weeks, my work of art will be nicely covered up! Next was my turn. I chose the shortest possible cut and told Vera to cut as much as possible! Turns out, it was so short, whatever “mistakes” was invisible to the naked eye!

So, my return on investment was excellent!

Friday, 8 July 2005

The 5 Malaysians I met in Wellington

What I wrote here was taken the wrong way by the 5 Malaysians I met. I had a string of emails copied to me explaining how my blog was seen as being discourteous to them, although no names were mentioned. I had no intentions of being discourteous or had any intentions of hurting anyone. I have therefore taken out my original blog!

Sunday, 3 July 2005

MEME - What is this?

We were tagged by Boo Licious from Masak Masak to answer some cooking questions and so I will try. She has lots of good yum yum recipes on her blog, some of them, off the eaten track but still Dee Licious.

So here they are!

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

Vera is a born chef! She must have started cooking when she was in the womb. Okay, okay not that young but you get the idea.

Me? My first "experiment" was when I was staying on my own. I had the most ridiculous meal which consist of anything and everything that I could find in the fridge. Can you imagine sweet and savoury all blended together? I can't but I did!

Here in New Zealand, I was open to new possibilities as this house we are renting comes with a huge oven. My first was a lamb roast. Marinated it and roasted it and it was really good to look, smell and taste but only to about 2 inches from the outer layer. Turns out it was not cooked inside. So it's back to the drawing board. But this other thing I experimented with was surprisingly good. Fresh NZ mussels baked in white wine! Hmmmm...

Who had the most influence on your cooking?

In my family, my dad was the "cook" as his cooking almost always beat my mom's flat but he has since retired from the kitchen and he is known to not follow the rules. So his cooking was always too much of something or too little of something but nevertheless, still good. Perhaps, that is my greatest influence.

But since 10 years ago, my dear wife has been the master or mistress of the kitchen and can I replicate my dad? Time will tell... I have sharpened my skills while I was in Indoensia alone for a year so, I have New Zealand to prove that all is not lost!

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?

I don't have photos of my early experiments (I do not want to be black mailed) but I do have pictures of some of my Indonesian delicacies but they are in the Tasman Sea now. Will post it when the stuff arrives.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?

Magei... what? As my dishes and what I use in them are out of this world, I have no competition in that sense, but my wife is my greatest threat. Her simplest dish always tastes better than my most extravagent! But who knows? Her skills will wear out I am sure! He he he...

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest let down?

Have wok will cook! I have even cooked rice in a wok.

Let down? Probably not in terms of gadgets but in terms of skill. Whenever I call my wife or mom for tips on how much salt or spice to use in a dish, it is always a pinch or a handful of this and that, or some other means of measurement which I could never figure out! They call it "agak - agak" but I am sure it is some kind of "trade secret" - not wanting us men to outbeat them women!

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!

My food combinations are never weird to me but my wife sometimes think spreading yogurt on bread when I make a sandwich or dipping sweet pancake in chilli sauce is disgusting. What can I say? Men will be men!

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?

Chilli, chilli and chilli

Did I say chilli?

The best chilli I found was in Indonesia. It is called "Sambal Lampung". It is the hottest and the most mouth watering chilli paste I have tasted. For awhile, all my dishes had a dash of sambal lampung in it! Now I am looking for the New Zealand equivalent which I think might be growing in our own backyard! Details in future blog.

Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer?

I am sure I will find one after I have posted this blog!

Three quickies:Your favorite ice-cream? : Actually a combination. Tip Top ice cream (my current favourite in NZ) with mix nuts thrown in and topped with fruit flavoured yogurt! If you think that was yuck! You are not alone!

You will probably never eat? :
Chinese and Indian herbs! I think they are just too good for the body and spoils going the overboard bit when I cook. I always believe things that taste really good are usually not so good for the health and healthy things are usually not so tasty to eat!

Your own signature dish? :
Chappati! I make the best chappati in the family! At least for now.

Who do you want most to cook you dinner? : My wife of course! A close second would be my dad!

There aren't that many things to say about New Zealand food here at the moment as Vera's "cooking toys" have yet to arrive but I bet from next month, I will have lots to say about what we eat here, as the food we find in New Zealand is so very different from home.

There are loads of Malaysian take aways at every corner of every suburb in Wellington but most who run them are not Malaysian let alone have anything to do with Malaysia. So you get dishes called "Nasi Gorang", "Bami Gorang" and "Mie Memek". And price wise, it is no where near affordability! Roti canai costs $6 for two pieces with chicken curry and a glass of teh tarik costs $3 (which actually came from Aik Cheong sachets). The most authentic Malaysian restaurant I have come across is one called "Kopi" near where I work. The owner hails from Kulim in Malaysia and he has a special "spice/chilli strength" for Malaysians. So you tell the waiter you want the real thing and you get the real thing! Not the adulterated version for "Mat Sallehs".