Would You, If No one's Watching?

I was so bloody tempted to write about a million other more interesting things if not for this niggling thing which annoyed me so.
I wanted to write about my Nine Emperor God Festival experience – my first time ever going on a complete 8 day vegetarian diet, and my first time walking alongside the grand chariot procession along the streets of George Town and how I ended up watching mediums play with burning iron balls and such. Oh and how the deities entered their bodies. How the deities started to give instructions to the temple folks and admonish them. Yes! Admonish them!
But all these will need to be pushed aside for this very post where I am going to ask you – yes, you – a very strange question.
If you have a blog, what is your reason for starting one?
If you blog, are you obsessed with visitor and reader counts?
If you blog and no one reads, would you give up completely?
How many posts would you write before you’d throw your hands up in despair and say, I bloody quit?
If Noone’s Watching or Reading…
I met a young girl sometime ago.
She struck me as a girl with a good education.
She dressed neatly.
She spoke good English, not the halting sort. She had fluency with her words.
She had even worked abroad for a while.
She looked timid but then again, it could be that she was shy. Shyness and timidity could swap places at times.
She told me that she had a blog.
“Oh….” I raised my eyebrows a bit.
I love getting to know other bloggers. I am a bit nosey like that. There’s nothing more delicious than reading what goes on in other people’s minds. Other people’s lives are almost always a lot more interesting.
(Speaking of that, I am now neck-deep in Norwegian Wood, a book which everyone says I must read if only to delve into the brilliant mind of Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami. Roll his name in your mouth a few times. Even his name sounds like something poetic already. More of that in another post.)
“But I only have 3 posts.”
“Why is that?”
“I stopped writing because none of my friends read.”
If I had been eating a grilled ham sandwich, I would’ve choked.
She says she likes to write. This was way before she admitted she had a blog. Even that I had to persuade it out of her.
So that got me thinking – would you stop writing if no one’s reading?
I wouldn’t.
Because I started this blog to vent, to record, to sharpen my own writing and thinking process. I read my older posts and start going down memory lane, the people I’ve met, the experiences I went through.
Blogging to me is so much fun.
It allows me to be free for a while, away from business, from marketing, from clients. For me, it is a sacred space. Like a room where you go just to take time to be, my blog chronicles my own growing up over the last 9 years or so. (Yes, I am in my 30s but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped growing up … inside.)
At times I have been stumped for words. I have had too many things to say. Or sometimes none at all. But a blog is like a friend. It tolerates all my moods and moments well. I write when I am indignant, when I am mad, when I am upset. I find words flow better when I am all hot inside.
So would you stop writing, if no one read your blog?
I am decidedly curious!

Cinema, Coffee & Sinful Desserts

Over the past few years (and way before Georgetown was declared a UNESCO Heritage site), many people have been intrigued and more than fascinated with old Georgetown.
There’s a wealth of history and nostalgia in every crack and pore of these crusty, musty buildings we call pre-war shophouses. Many have a link to their past when they come across these buildings. Many love the quaintness, the charm and the memories which have somehow brought them to Penang. Some aren’t even Penangites.

We got to know Kopi Cine from a friend.
Ann had come from Langkawi but she was gushing about these row of shophouses in Stewart Lane and Armenian Street which had been turned into retail shops, guest house and cafe. It helped that she knew the owner of these business ventures. It helped too that Nic and I too have met the highly successful yet no-nonsense lady proprietor some time ago on one of our trips to Langkawi.
We decided to check Kopi Cine out one night.

It’s not Kopi Cine as kopi orang cina. It’s Cine of Cinema. Its Chinese name says, Kah Fei Dian Ying which means Coffee and Cinema. A mouthful and one that will certainly cause little ego fights about its pronunciation.
Kopi Cine is owned by the same people who own Bon Ton in Langkawi. Bon Ton is classy, elegant and sophisticated, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining or staying there.
Kopi Cine is also a bit of hunt for people who’ve never ventured down the funky-smelling lanes and alleys of old Penang (for want of a better word, funky means anything that smells awkwardly disturbing but you just cannot place yourself to describe the vulgarity).
It’s on Stewart Lane, a narrow strip of road that’s more residential than touristy. This is the road just before the Goddess of Mercy Temple and certainly it is not your backpacker Chulia Street pub-drinking place.
The night we were there, we overheard a young girl asking, “Where’s the aircond dining section?”
If there’s any indication of what place you might step into, be forewarned – there’s no aircond dining section in Kopi Cine. It’s pure hot cond – it’s au naturel air which we call breeze. It’s open to the street and with its bright lights, it’s a beacon on a dark, silent street devoid of tourists.
The cafe is narrow with a dark wood bar running down on side and a few tables down the other side. It’s like those European cafes where its appeal lies in its cosiness. You get to doodle on the table too with Buncho crayons as you wait for your meals. You may also take home the white mahjong paper with your doodles if you so please.

Kopi Cine opens from 9am till 11pm and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and lots of alcohol. (If you so please and have the budget for a bottle of bubbly, yes, you can get that here too! In fact their wine list is extensive, considering it’s in Stewart Lane. The wine list looks like something out of E&O’s wine menu!)

Food selections are limited but whatever we ordered that night, we actually loved it.
I ordered a Middle Eastern platter of Mezze which is good for vegetarians (not that I am one but sometimes I like to think I’m eating healthy!). The Mezze came with a good 8 quarters of soft pita, hummus, eggplant dip, dukka and salsa. If you like comfort food, you’ll find the hummus and eggplant dip highly satisfactory.
Nic’s order of BBQ Chicken Tikka was tender and juicy and he also had enough pita to mop up the side of cucumber salad, raita and spicy dip. Ann’s lamb sausages with mashed potato was a hearty meal.
We couldn’t leave without attempting dessert, stuffed as we were. Bon Ton is famous for its desserts and who could pass up a chance to try its homemade gula melaka ice cream? Plus, as Ann revealed, the desserts were less pricey compared to Langkawi.
My apple and guave crumble came in a tiny Chinese tea cup with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on the side. It didn’t look like a lot but it was sweet and filling. Ann’s steamed apple pudding with gula melaka ice cream was a delight. I especially loved the intense sweetness of the gula melaka resonating in the mouth. As its ice creams are homemade, it was also sheer pleasure digging into Nic’s layered ice cream cake smothered in chocolate sauce.
Of course don’t expect Kopi Cine to be your regular cheap eat.
It’s not.
It’s not when it has champagne on its menu.
It’s not when you realize it’s really like 32 The Mansion but tricked down to look rickety and rundown. I guess shabby chic is the order of the day. (And to recreate this look, here’s a hint: you can get most of the decor featured from SSF in Anson Road.)
The Reading Room is next door but the books aren’t for sale. A 60s Chinese movie plays silently, projected on the uneven walls at the back. Upstairs is the Stewart Lane Residences where you get to stay and experience the ambience of the forgotten Penang. Like some arthouse movie where nostalgia rings deep.

Yup, returning to your roots is in vogue again.

Tips for Eco-friendly Weddings

I’m a big greenie, thanks to being influenced positively by Don and Mylene.
I love conservation and yes, I am a member of MNS (that’s Malaysian Nature Society) whereby I am privy to interesting emails about conservation and ecology, particularly on the Yahoo Group that I am on. For a minimum of RM60 per year, I get updates from MNS about the state of our country in the form of gorgeous journals. (What is RM60 to you? It’s probably a night out in the city and probably not even enough to buy a pair of stilettoes but imagine, your RM60 for MNS can help protect those who cannot protect themselves.)
Sometime ago, MNS members started giving ideas about how to organise a green wedding successfully.
Did you know that weddings often leave huge carbon footprints? With everyone flying in from almost everywhere for the big day, and all the gifts and wedding decor, I should think it’s a mammoth print.
With permission from the thread originator, Ee Lynn, below are some tips to go green and have an eco-friendly wedding (hey, even birds are considered!).
Ee Lynn has these ideas:
1. Limit the size of your guest list. Instead of obligating the attendance of family members and friends from out of town, create a wedding website they can visit and leave comments in.
2. If you have many members of the family in a particular state, say, Penang, instead of having 12 of them drive down to KL for your wedding, host a delayed family-only wedding dinner there the next time you go to Penang.
3. Don’t have organic flowers or chocolates airflown from some distant country just so you could have a pesticide-free wedding. Always choose local.
4. Help plan your guests’ transport arrangements. Have them carpool by designating meeting areas and pick-up points.
Non-travel related tips:
1. Have lots of vegan dishes, not just for the vegetarians. Go for spring rolls, sauteed vegetables and salads. It’s sad that most of us celebrate a happy occasion by taking the lives of small animals :o( We should try to limit the number of animal lives taken.
2. Practice the 3Rs: Rent, don’t buy, your outfits, the chocolate fountain, and anything that you probably will not be using again.
3. Inform the caterers/restaurateurs that you don’t want a polystyrene arch or backdrop!
4. Get your guests involved. Ask if they could bring their own homegrown flowers to contribute to the arrangements. If you have a colour theme already, do let them know. Best to encourage potted plants e.g. orchids, otherwise they’d just go out to the nearest florist, buy a big bouquet and defeat the whole purpose.
5. Or have a blank scrapbook ready with stacks of photos. Each guest brings enough scrapbooking material to decorate a page, pen a personal note and choose a photo to go with his or her dedication. Let guests know in advance via text message, e-mail or direct communication, so they can compose their poems and congratulatory notes ahead of the wedding. Each contributor can be given a token of appreciation later.
6. Instead of throwing rice and confetti, use birdseed to make a big heart-shaped pattern on the ground in front of the church or wherever the daytime ceremony is to be held. Apparently rice can swell in birds’ stomachs and kill them, but birdseed can’t.
7. You could either choose to do without wedding favours, or go for things like potted 4-leaf clovers, magic message bean plants, organic spa soap and natural potpurri in cotton muslin pouches.
8. Communicate your message: Let others know what you believe in. There’s nothing worse than taking the noble step of opting for a green wedding and then having duhhh-case friends accuse you of being mean or stingy. Remind them of the theme throughout the wedding by playing songs with a green message (“Big Yellow Taxi”, anyone?), leaving environmental literature on the reception table for their perusal or displaying No Sharks Fin Soup campaign cards on the table.
What do you think? Many of my friends have already gotten married but it’s not only for weddings. Consider these tips too whenever you organise a party or a family celebration or birthday dinner.
Reduce your carbon footprint, whatever you do. Live wisely!