Sunday, May 28, 2017

Against all odds

This little chilli grew from a little flower on a broken branch. For weeks I thought the flower would fall and die. It did not. It stubbornly grew to be a little chilli. The leaves on its brach are wilted and dying, but the little chilli keeps on growing. 

Hope many more survivors can still grow amid their toxic environment - from war to domestic abuse, from hunger to natural disaster. 

"Gambate...!" Is a Japanese word that no other language has. It is a word we say to plants as they are growing. Meaning "Grow big and strong, little one...!"

#gambate #plant #againstallodds #survivor #pauseforthought 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester, 23rd May 2017

Yesterday, Manchester experienced one of the worst attacks since 9/11 and London 7/7. As singer Ariana Grande was wrapping up her concert, a young man detonated an improvised explosive device killing himself and 22 others, injuring 59 people. Among the victims are children and teenagers, first time concert goers.

We mourn. We condemn. We shed tears. Children should not die in such a tragedy. Murderers should not target children. But the reality is, it happened. Children died. Murdered, targeted by terrorist. Children also died when schools and hospitals destroyed by misiles.

We condemn the terrorist causing yesterday's carnage. We should also condemn our involvements in other countries' wars. We should condemn the fact that we cling on nuclear weapon for 'defense'. 

The thing is, human beings are capable of doing the worst things and the best things. All nations have murdered babies and innocents in the name of whatever - from colonialism, religion, freedom, the opposite of freedom, for money and for idealism. They are still murder and they are still wrong. 

But at the same time, people from all nations have also done the most unthinkable kindness. 

Yesterday we saw the solidarity of taxi drivers in Manchester taking survivors home for free, the generousity of the locals offering rooms. The heroism of parents and strangers saving other kids.

We are a unique species as we literally make and break this planet and each other. We are pests who are destroying Planet Earth. But we are also the saviours and the only hope this planet has.

Jeremy Keeling of Monkey World said, "I have my views on right and wrong, but preaching morality is fraught with problems" ("Jeremy & Amy", 2010, p.217). So true. Who are we to claim higher moral ground when we produce the most lethal weapons and sell them to any one who can afford them? Who are we to say others are evil when we look away from other children death just because they are not in our country? 

The thing is, murder and violence are wrong. Love and kindness are right. Someone said this over 2000 years ago and died on a rugged cross for it. He said, "turn and offer your other cheek if someone slap you." When will human ever learn?

I guess the only moral of this sad story is: "always do the best our heart can guide us. Be kind and gentle. Always believe in Love and act based on Love." 

Peace and God bless us all ❤️ 

Manchester, 23 May 2017 


Friday, May 12, 2017

Indonesian Peanut Sauce (Bumbu Gado-gado) Recipe

The Indonesian peanut sauce (sambal kacang) is commonly used for the famous Gado-Gado salad and its different varieties and for Chicken Satay. 

I saw some recipes online that uses only peanut butter. Rubbish! The real Indonesian peanut sauce uses proper peanuts, and grind them as soft or as coarse as you like.

You can add peanut butter to make the sauce creamy, but use real peanut as the main ingredient. Easiest is to use supermarket's basic salted peanut. You can rinse the salt to be healthy, or just use the peanut as salty (instead of adding the salt into the sauce later).

As most Indonesian recipes, precise measurements are not important. But as a guidelines, I wrote the measurements for those of you who never tried this before. You can always add more peanut


200gr (ish) Basic salted peanut

2 little Shallots or 1 banana shallot 

2 cloves Garlic

Red chilli and/or Bird eye chilli as needed

Salt & pepper to taste

100ml (ish) Hot/warm water 


1tbs peanut butter or 1tbs coconut milk

1 tsp brown sugar 

1tbs Tamarind water and/or lemon/lime

Sweet soya sauce

Method A: Mix everything in a food processor or blender, add salt and pepper to taste. 

Or, Method B: grind the shallot, garlic, chilli, and peanuts using mortar and pestle, adding water slowly. This is the authentic Gado-gado street seller method... if you do this, you have to add some sexy hip gyrating movement to make it taste nice! (Not making sense? That's the point, the Indonesian way...hahaha...)

Both Gado-gado and Satay are normally served with rice cake (lontong). You can make this by boiling 'boil in the bag' rice for one to two hours. Then press the bulging bag with something heavy. Once it's cooler, refrigerate until firm - two hours to overnight. To serve, cut the rice cake into bite size (about one inch cube).

To make gado-gado, mix any vegetable you like with a hard boiled egg, fried tofu, fried tempe, and rice cake, then pour the peanut sauce. On top you can add lemon/lime juice, sweet soya sauce, fried shallot (bawang goreng) and crackers (krupuk) as garnish.

The traditional Indonesian or Javanese gado-gado has long/fine green beans, bean sprouts, sweet corn, some green leaves (pak choy or its family). Sometimes they have bitter gourd (pare). Still, you can use any vegetable you like. I sometimes used mixed salad leaves, kale, frozen mixed veg, etc.

Another version of this delicious and nutricious salad is the Sundanese Karedok. Same mix of vegetable, but most veg are raw. And if you want to be authentic, add Kaempferia galanga (kencur) to the sauce to give it the extra Sundanese kick.

Native Jakartan or Betawi people have yet another version of Gado-gado. It is called Ketoprak. In this version, the only vegetable is bean sprout. The rest are rice cake, rice vermicelli (bihun), fried tofu and sometimes hard boiled egg.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What's The Point?

Dealing with human mortality. When death was so near. Is there really heaven and hell and the eternal life? (Funny enough, Fr Dougal in the conedy seried "Fr Ted" also questioned this in one episode) 

I really want to believe. If nothing else, it's because believing in the Mighty Imaginary Friend Above makes life easier to handle. But I want to believe that there is a point in life, that Love will make things better, that He did not die on the cross for nothing.... If not, why we bother working to help others? 

I can't bear the alternative. I tried denying God and religion in anger on the face of 250,000 death on one Boxing Day. But years later I realised that turning away from God only made my life empty and meaningless. 

As expressed so beautifully in Mary Doria Russel's The Sparrow, "I'd rather think that God does not exist, because the alternative is too painful. I love God too much to hold Him responsible for all these deaths and atrocities. Yet if He is God and He is Almighty, why did He not stop this tragedy? Why did He let so many innocents die?"

I thought I came to accept the non-existence of any answer and take the alternative route of believing that in every disaster we found one or two human kindness that reflect the Father's Love.

But today, I really would love to hear God's answer to a question asked by a young rape survivor (and many other victims of poverty, injustice, exploitation and oppression): what's the point? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Be adventurous

I have been thinking... As a child and teenager I tried everything: from ballet to karate, from basket ball to mountaineering. Someone labelled me back then: "you're a quitter! You can't finish what you started!" I was sad because the person who labelled me was an important person. I thought I was disappointing him all my life. 

I remember carrying too many things in my hand and they all fell. My parents told me off for biting more than I could chew. 

But today I realised how rich I am because of all the things I have tried and the many stuff I had tried to carry. By failing to carry everything, I learned my limit. Because I tried everything, my CV is colourful, and I am proud of all my successes and failures. I am proud that I chose my own way and never let anyone dictate me. 

When I begged for help and was left to struggle on my own, I thought my world came to an end. But today I'm glad that I did things my way. The tears of being abandoned has become my strength. 

My advice to the next generation is to follow your heart. There's nothing wrong in changing careers or trying many different hobbies. Be responsible, but don't forget to be adventurous. Just like the meme here: better an ooops than a what if...