In Praise of the Fish and Chips

It has come to my attention, as one entered studenthood, they would most probably encounter a situation – unless they happened to be one of those obscenely rich ones – that in the middle of a bleak winter, with with nary a penny to one’s name, while there’s an upcoming exam or an extra important essay looming ahead, they must also face the fact that at that precise moment, they are also faced with an equally alarming threat. That of the rebellious rumbling tummy to boot!

Disaster! One simply can not think on an empty stomach! That is simply not done.

Now, of course you can say; well they ought to learn money management better and perhaps to cook as well so they will never be in that dire predicament. But I would wager, as for the rest of the student body, that they would be in similar situation. I mean, we’re talking about uni years here, fresh from mommy’s home, off to fend themselves for the first time, do you really think the majority of them would behave logically?

Well… maybe you would. But, it is safe to say, at some point any student would find themselves skint and hungry. What to do?

If, like me, you were in England, the answer is fairly obvious; beans on toast! What else? Frankly, I never got the taste of that I’m afraid. I did once on a sudden bout of nostalgia, took a piece of toast and slathered a healthy serving of beans. Two mouthfuls later I remembered why I only like the idea of it as opposed to the actual partaking of the meal.

So that’s not the solution for me. What then? Am I to withered away my youth until the next bundle of coins find their way to my reticule? Why, of course, the quintessentially British cuisine of Fish and Chips!

Joy!

I adore Fish and Chips. I do. I really do. Nothing quite like braving the gust of chilly winds up a block to our wonderful Chip shop in the corner. Entering the toastily warm shop, waiting for our orders to be wrapped up, nesting the package under our coats to warm our grumbling tummy while we trek back to the hall. Then, once safe in the common kitchen, it is time to tuck in. Oh heaven! Thank you for small mercies.

In all honesty, our Chippy shop is probably not the best in the England, nor Yorkshire, heck, or even the best in the city.  But, as it is the closest from our hovel (okay okay, our equally toasty hall) it is the best Fish and Chip shop in the entire city of Leeds. So there!

How about in other places? My Australian counterpart claimed that they rely extensively on a wonderful creation called; the meat pie. Cheap and filling, this delicacy has saved countless starving students from the brink of extinction during those cold cold winter nights. Practically each and every one of these former Ozzie got glazed eyed when they’re waxing lyrical about this baked goodies.

So of course when I finally got to visit Kangaroo Land I simply must taste this invention. And I did.

IMG_2870

This is it baybeh!

It’s…. interesting. Better than shepherd’s pie, more filling than ramen noodles, cheaper than beer, no wonder they fall in love with the humble meat pie. Perhaps had I gone there to school, I too would be a glazy eyed devotee. Since I didn’t, I pledge allegiance to the aforementioned dish. But since I know what it is like to hanker for something from our youth (yikes! I sound terribly old!), I got some to take back home for my friends. Got very positive reaction from most of them. Glad they do.

But you know what, they have Fish and Chips in Australia! They do! They really do!

Oh my, I am back in heaven!

Of course there are establishments here that can fry fish in a batter served with a portion of chips. But it come on a plate not wrapped up in paper and the ones in Oz does. Well, they are still part of Britain, I suppose that’s why it is so similar to the ones found over there. One bite and I’m in reverie reliving uni days. Of Ellerslie Hall, Hyde Park, Roger Stevens, Eddie Boyle, Parkinson Steps, Casa Latina, Sports Ball, the Dry Dock, the Old Bar and lest we forget the ubiquitous PolyBop! Woohoo!

Be it fish and chips or meat pie, a mighty big cheer to those wonderful creation that sustain and nourish us in our time of needs. The fact that it can turn us from (reasonably) sensible people into poets and lyricist upon a mere mention years after we left Uni… Such, is the power of food.

Now, if I can only find somewhere that serve a decent Yorkshire pudding, I’ll be one happy bunny.

Scrumptious. No?

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Dude, We Are Parents ?!?

The good thing about being an expatriate brat is that you get to have friends all over the world.

The bad thing about being an expatriate brat is that you get to have friends all over the world.

Huh?

If you go to high school  and then settled down roots in the same city, it’s a fair bet that most of your classmates also settled there. With friends that are in within your physical area, you get invited to their wedding, visit them in the hospital, buy them birthday present before going to the party, and have the event posted on Path to show the world, “Hey look, I’m here!”

If  you go to highschool elsewhere far far away from your hometown, more than few hours plane ride, well, once you finished school, unless you set up roots in the Western Hemisphere chances are you’re not going to end up growing old(er) with your classmates. If, like me, you’re from the Eastern part of the meridian – the rather poorer parts as well – then good luck finding your secondary schoolmates in your hometown. As much as you would like to, it is not always practical to go to a friend’s birthday party when it’ll took a day or three flying commercial to get there. Although strangely enough, I did found 2 of my high-school teachers here but that’s another story.

Now, as we all know, the internet supposedly brings us closer. In a sense that’s true. If we lived back, say in the 80’s, we’d have to rely on postcards and letters to bring us up to date. With social media, it is much easier to find out what they’re up to. Well, provided they like to post regular updates about themselves as well. Obviously not all of your class mates are social media fans, but a good chunk of them do regularly updates the world about their general wellbeing and sometimes post some pics as well.  So I  get to find out who’s married, who’s not, who have kids, who have babies, etc.

The thing is, even if you see pictures of their wedding and whatnot, because you were never there, even though you know those photos are not hoaxes, sometimes it still didn’t really register in your head that the dude who used to wear grunge fashion all the time is now actually someone’s husband. So when at some point later they have kids, you got nearly choked on your morning coffee upon seeing their beaming face while holding their newborn baby as you checked your fb updates. Especially this year it seems that a bunch of them decided to have another kids, some are still in the oven, some already popped out. Interesting. Never let it be said that the class of 94 are nothing if not productive 😉

Strangely enough, these coffee-choking moments only occurred upon seeing the male members of my high school classmates. Somehow when it’s my girl friends’ babies there’s not a doubt in your mind that they are now mommies. It’s an,”Aww… how cute!” moment rather than, “Say whaaat??? Who thinks it’s a good idea for him to have kids?” Ok double standard I know! Totally guilty. Off to the dungeon!

According to Ishat, it’s because I still see them as those grungy, long-haired dudes waxing poetics about the latest from the Seattle sound or Headbangers Balls. In reality we’re all racing towards the big 4-0, already completed our education, and is now a model middle-class citizens of the world complete with dogs and cats just to make our already rambunctious household even more so. How is it possible that we are now moms and dads? However, as Hollywood tv writers would like you to believe, we never really left high-school.

So yeah, I do know that Em has a son, or that Mel and her sister are both Mrs, and that Mike, Nori, and Nadav are now family man. But somehow in your mind you still see Em as that girl with the big smile and the first person who told you what olliebollen is. You still think of Mel this zany, quirky person who’s allergic to chocolate yet ate it all the time. And the boys? Well, they’re still in that grungy, long-haired, checked flannel shirts period, except for Nori – he had short hair back then. We were a crazy bunch, living in a wild town, in a funky era.

Then again, what are high school if not the crazy time of our life? Now that some distance has passed, I have nothing but chuckles at the memory. We may be old(er) in real life, but we’re forever young in our hearts.

Ah class, I heart ye all.

kusjes!

yep, that’s one of the choices of where we’d go at night 😉

 

On Teaching

When I first start teaching, I wanted to pass down knowledge so that it doesn’t stop with me. I also want to make sure the students understand so they would do well, pass their exam, graduated and move on to better and bigger things. What I didn’t realise is that in the course of doing these things somewhere along the way these students grow on me. I teach writing and when someone writes, even if what they wrote is academic paper, they left an imprint of them in their writing.

Perhaps because I taught non-fiction, often they reveal insight about themselves.  I’m not sure whether they realise it or not, but through their assignments, I get to know them a little better, their family, their friends and sometimes, their dreams. Some of their essays made me sad like when a student was writing about television, he was writing about how parents should spend more time with their kids so the kids would learn how to behave from them, not from tv shows. But there’s something about the way he wrote it that made me suspect that it’s based from experience. Some others made me chuckle, like when another student wrote an adoring profile about her father. She actually ends it by saying, “I love my father very much!” Aww… how can your heart not warms up?

And so, given that I’m privy to some of their thought it is no wonder they grow on me. It’s funny, after a while these kids starts to feel like my kids. I care about them, I want them to do well, I get to admonish them if they’re lazy (and they do get lazy, they’re college kids, not angels) but I don’t have to worry about them coming home late or feeding them daily. Great eh?

It really is funny considering you only meet them for what a couple semesters? You don’t raise these kids, they pass through your life briefly and yet they left an indelible mark on you. I totally didn’t expect that. Come graduation, my insides were bawling. Seeing them walking up that stage to receive their diplomas I clapped just as hard as their parents. Hugged some of them, took pictures and that’s it. You won’t see them again next semester.

Then holiday is over, you find yourself with a new class and start the whole process over again. Life eh? One thing for sure, I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I have much bigger appreciation for my own teachers. Thank you.

*Congrats K, the world is yours. Much love*