Caring For Curry

LAST WEEK, LAWRENCE (one of our local staff) brought us a pot of curry plant. He had transferred it from another staff’s home, re-planted and cared for it while we were sorting out our home.

Seeing the plant brings back a flood of memories from our days in Moscow, Hong Kong and home.

I can’t begin to stress how important curry plant is to our lives; suffice to say it’s an important ingredient to our home-cooking and entertaining as well. We’ve kept one (we try) wherever we were.

Sad but true, I once measured my life achievement to the survival of the plant! And being able to do that in extreme-weathered Moscow was indeed an achievement! I was even able to grow some 10 little plants to give away to friends and neighbours by the time I left Moscow at the end our 3-year stint in February 2008.

Shima who inherited a pot of curry plant and a pot of pandan plant from me, emailed me a photo in 2009; while another tree followed its new owner, Kathrin to Germany! Kathrin emailed last month a photo of her curry plant sitting in her lush garden, with a message “I really do my best, but I’m afraid our climate is not what the plant expects”. I think she’s done a great job the very fact that the plant is still alive (after SIX years), having made the journey from Moscow, crossed Polish borders into German soil!

Our numerous curry plants in Moscow, January 2008.

Our numerous curry plants in Moscow, January 2008.

curry_2

Photo of the pandan and curry plants emailed by Shima in August 2009.

curry_3

The curry plant we gave Kathrin in 2008 that eventually followed her home to Germany (photo emailed to me in August 2014).

curry_4

Our curry plant in Hong Kong, August 2010. It grew so healthily, parting with it was hard to do!

curry_5

Our curry plant in Malaysia… despite conducive environment it didn’t really grow well (January 2013)

curry_6

Our curry plant in Accra, September 2014.

Our next “mission” is to get hold of a pandan plant (screwpine). If we could successfully keep one alive in Moscow, I think we will do fine in Accra that has similar weather conditions as Malaysia.

Speaking of pandan, when we were based in HK, I “smuggled” in a pandan plant from Hainan, China. I recall the Chinese immigration eyed my hand carry very suspiciously. Thankfully the “C” on our baggages stood for “Consulate” and not “Criminal”!!! While I successfully brought it home to HK, sadly, it didn’t survive long.

pandan

My prized pandan, courtesy of Pak Colin in Hainan (Nov 2009)

 

Advertisements

Em’s First Playdate

EM’S BEEN WANTING to invite friends over for a playdate ever since we identified the home back in April… mind you, it was a time when she didn’t even have many friends, other than the children of Papa’s colleagues and the two children of Mommy’s friend.

When we finally moved into the house in July and she started school in August, the desire to invite friends over grew stronger… mind you, her room was still in a mess, unpacked boxes still scattered around, and some toys were still in them!

The week that we finally agreed to her earnest request, she fell ill and was absent from school for three days. When she finally recovered and returned to school on a Thursday, I went with her and hastily made contact with the parents of her classmates whom she wanted to invite.

And that’s how her first playdate came about on this date, Saturday, 6 September 2014.

(Top, left) Little Em hosting her first playdate, queued up last allowing her friends to have a go at the food first.

Little Em hosting her first playdate, queued up last allowing her friends to have a go at the food first.

play_2

Bored of playing toys in her room, they came downstairs… (L) Nafisa played the piano; (R) Playdate or play dead?

play_3

Big M had her share of playdates back in HK with two of her closest friends then, both of whom were in Netball Club with her.

play_4

Little Em got a tiny teeny taste of playdate back then when she was included by Big M’s friends, at home on 9 April 2010. 

Mid-Autumn in Accra

TODAY IS OFFICIALLY the Mid-Autumn Festival widely celebrated back home (15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese calendar).

Typically little ones will be parading their multi-design lanterns, while the adults struggle to keep the mosquitoes away under the moonlight. The moon is at its roundest in the month. It’s the time to savour mooncakes too.

(Left, top and bottom) Cousins and their friends playing lanterns; (Right) Even adults are captivated by lanterns, as seen through the lens of my friend Lilian in Hoi An, Vietnam.

(Left, top and bottom) Cousins and their friends playing lanterns; (Right) Even adults are captivated by lanterns, as seen through the lens of my friend Lilian in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Far from home in the western African city of Accra… no mooncake, no lantern, no celebration either, but we enjoyed the same moon at its roundest.

moon_2

Full moon in Accra, 8 Sept 2014.

I guess we can’t complain as we’d been bestowed with abundant mooncakes in Hong Kong to last us a while.

Mooncakes in HK came in beautiful packaging like these.  

This is from Marriot Hotel, Nanning, China.

This is from Marriot Hotel, Nanning, China.

“Panda Ambassadors” in Malaysia

LAST MONTH, TWO giant pandas from China arrived in Malaysia and made the National Zoo their new home (see article “Pandas arrive in Zoo Negara).

The furry pair, Fu Wa (male) and Feng Yi (female) are on a 10-year loan to the country to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China – Malaysia this year. They are expected to be renamed soon. [On June 25th, the PM renamed the pair Xing Xing (Prosperity) and Liang Liang (Pretty)]

Treated as its national  treasures, China has extended this “panda diplomacy” to other countries, including the United States, which received its first panda pair back in 1972 after President Nixon’s historic visit to China. The  giant pandas were placed in the National Zoo in Washington DC; the female Ling-Ling lived till 1992 while the male Hsing-Hsing died in November 1999. I recall my sister and niece visited us in DC that November and we’d gone to the National Zoo but didn’t get to see Hsing Hsing who was already sick at that time.  He was eventually euthanised on 28th November 1999. The pair had bore 5 cubs but none survived.

My first encounter with the black and white endangered species was in their homeland of Chengdu, Sichuan province, China with my parents in 1996; and subsequently in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park between 2009-2010.

First encounter with pandas in Chengdu, Sichuan, which has a Panda Breeding Research Center. Besides Sichuan, pandas are also found in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. 

First encounter with pandas in Chengdu, Sichuan, which has a Panda Breeding Research Center. Besides Sichuan, pandas are also found in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

One of Big M’s numerous encounters with pandas in Ocean Park, Hong Kong, between 2009 and 2010. (19 Oct 2009)

One of Big M’s numerous encounters with pandas in Ocean Park, Hong Kong, between 2009 and 2010. (19 Oct 2009)

Little Em’s first encounter with a panda… ok, she knows it’s not a real one. (8 Jun 2010)

Little Em’s first encounter with a panda… ok, she knows it’s not a real one. (8 Jun 2010)

Where are the pandas? Oh a mere panda mascot and panda soft toys.

Where are the pandas? Oh a mere panda mascot and panda soft toys.

Finally! Arrived at the “Giant Panda Adventure” and Little Em fell asleep! But the furry bear was too great to miss, so I woke her up to see the real thing.

Finally! Arrived at the “Giant Panda Adventure” and Little Em fell asleep! But the furry bear was too great to miss, so I woke her up to see the real thing. (8 Jun 2010)

Paid the pandas another visit in the same month in Ocean Park. (30 Jun 2010)

Paid the pandas another visit in the same month in Ocean Park. (30 Jun 2010)

The girls’ prior visit to Ocean Park in January 2010.

The girls’ prior visit to Ocean Park in January 2010.

And here's a panda in Ghana! “Pandy” which Little Em brought home from HK, had travelled with us, nicely tucked away in her handbag, to our new home in Accra. (April 2014)

And here’s a panda in Ghana! “Pandy” which Little Em brought home from HK, had travelled with us, nicely tucked away in her handbag, to our new home in Accra. (April 2014)