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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

 

More May Bazaars

BAZAARS AND MAY seem to go hand in hand. I remember partaking in the annual bazaar of the Asia-Pacific Women’s Group (APWG) in Moscow, Russia, held in May, for three years.

APWG Fair, Moscow on 28 May 2005.

APWG Fair, Moscow on 28 May 2005.

APWG Fair, Moscow on 20 May 2006. The Korean stall selling our favourite kimchi. Kimchi is described as “One of the world’s healthiest food” by US Health Magazine.

APWG Fair, Moscow on 26 May 2007.

APWG Fair, Moscow on 26 May 2007.

“Warna Warni” One Malaysia Fair, Hong Kong, 21-23 May 2010.

“Warna Warni” One Malaysia Fair, Hong Kong, 21-23 May 2010.

CNY Moscow

CHINESE NEW YEAR is fondly celebrated at home in KL all my growing up years, and now also in Malacca after I got married.

While the celebration away from home is just not the same, we do have some fond memories of CNY when in Moscow (and earlier in Washington DC and later in Hong Kong).

RED ALERT… guests in red attires during our CNY open house in Moscow on 18 Feb 2007.

RED ALERT… guests in red attires during our CNY open house in Moscow on 18 Feb 2007.

The ladies posed for a pix.

The ladies posed for a pix.

(L) The men who were also colleagues, having a good chat away from the office; (R) Other guests.

(L) The men who were also colleagues, having a good chat away from the office; (R) Other guests.

(L-R) More neighbours, friends and colleagues.

(L-R) More neighbours, friends and colleagues.

Doctors in a row… (L-R) Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor ; Dr. Faiz Khaleed and then-doctor-in-the-making Melvin.

Doctors in a row… (L-R) Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor ; Dr. Faiz Khaleed and then-doctor-in-the-making Melvin.

Some of the guests in the living room upstairs (photo courtesy of KathrinM).

Some of the guests in the living room upstairs (photo courtesy of KathrinM).

Before and after pictures of the main dish – a whole roasted lamb and pilaf rice.

Before and after pictures of the main dish – a whole roasted lamb and pilaf rice.

Festive cookies and kuih, many kindly contributed by neighbours :-)

Festive cookies and kuih, some kindly contributed by neighbours 🙂

A week later on 24th February 2007, we held a CNY lunch for the local staff, thankful that they came despite that Saturday being a very cold snowy day… then again, what is a little snow to the locals, anyway 🙂

CNY lunch at home on 24 February 2007.

CNY lunch at home on 24 February 2007.

The local staff partook in karaoke and even entertained on the piano.

The local staff partook in karaoke and even entertained on the piano.

M was the only child there and got quite a bit of attention from the guests.

M was the only child there and got quite a bit of attention from the guests.

More photos with the local staff (24 February 2007).

More photos with the local staff (24 February 2007).

Dec 25th in Moscow, 2005-2007

WE SPENT THREE Christmases in Moscow in the years 2005-2007, although Russians officially observe Christmas day on 7th January. (An article in the December 2007 Aeroflot in-flight magazine explained: “The Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar invented in ancient Rome and the state follows the more modern and widely adopted Gregorian one. According to the Julian calendar, Christmas falls on the Gregorian January 7 and New Year begins on January 14.”)

While I don’t have photos taken of 25th Dec 2005 in Moscow, I vividly recall in our first year there, we went to MEGA mall, a shopping chain operated by IKEA. We used to spend a lot of our weekends there to shop (there are more than 150 stores) and do our grocery at adjacent French-chain Ashan, which was the first hypermarket to open in Moscow in 2002.

On that fateful day, we arrived at Ashan by 9am (after some 45 mins slow drive on snow-cleared roads) and we couldn’t believe the crowded outdoor parking lot. Getting a parking spot was one thing, getting a shopping cart was another. Waiting out in the cold temperature of -10°C for some 15 minutes just to get a cart was no laughing matter. We were in for another shock when we entered Ashan to see a sea of people, doing their Christmas and new year shopping. We joined in the crowd nevertheless, sandwiched with burly people in bulky winter clothing, and got elbowed at times in narrow aisles. After an hour of trying to shop as quickly as we could, we headed towards check-out only to come face to face with a wall of stagnant queue waiting to pay! A quick scan around and we realised the scenario was the same at all check-out counters. Tired and hungry, we abandoned our cart and headed for lunch instead, vowing to learn from this lesson.

We DID return to MEGA mall the following year in 2006, but we stayed away from Ashan for sure! In 2007, we stayed away completely and went for a drive in town instead!

Back at MEGA on 25 Dec 2006, we had our Christmas lunch there and did our Christmas shopping at the stores.

Back at MEGA on 25 Dec 2006, we had our Christmas lunch there and did our Christmas shopping at the stores.

Out driving on the street of Moscow on Christmas Day 2007.

Out driving on the street of Moscow on Christmas Day 2007.

Stopped along Moscow River for some photos of the Russian White House. (25 Dec 2007)

Stopped along Moscow River for some photos of the Russian White House. (25 Dec 2007)

We also stopped by the Ukraina Hotel in Kutuzovsky prospect, which has since been renamed Radisson Royal Hotel in 2009. Ukraina Hotel was one of the historic “Seven Sisters” (all built between 19302 and 1950s during Stalin’s time) known for its distinctive architecture. The other notable “Sisters” are the Moscow State University on Vorobyevy Hills and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Smolenskaya Square.

We also stopped by the Ukraina Hotel in Kutuzovsky prospect, which has since been renamed Radisson Royal Hotel in 2009. Ukraina Hotel was one of the historic “Seven Sisters” (all built between 19302 and 1950s during Stalin’s time) known for its distinctive architecture. The other notable “Sisters” are the Moscow State University on Vorobyevy Hills and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Smolenskaya Square.

 

Malaysian Idol in Moscow, 2007

ON THIS DATE in 2007, we caught a charity concert in Moscow that featured our one and only Malaysian Idol, Jaclyn Victor. Indeed she flew all the way from home into the Russian capital on a cold December day, on the same flight as our house guest Kit.

The concert, organised by the Malaysian Medical Students, was held at the Slava Zhizny Concert Hall, Moscow.

Jaclyn took to the stage belting out a few numbers including her Idol-winning song “Gemilang”. The concert also clearly showcased our multi-talented medical students – mainly from the Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy (MMA) and the Russian State Medical University (RSMU) – who, among others, put up a Malaysian cultural dance, piano recital, band performance and fashion show, along the local talents.

(Top, L-R) The Christmas Bash Charity Concert 2007; M with Jaclyn Victor; (Bottom, L-R) One of the organising committee member Melvin, with our house guest Kit; a group pix with Jaclyn.

(Top, L-R) The Christmas Bash Charity Concert 2007; M with Jaclyn Victor; (Bottom, L-R) One of the organising committee member Melvin, with our house guest Kit; a group pix with Jaclyn.