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Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

This is my second Friday Finds! I mentioned briefly about this book yesterday so today I'd like to share it in its full glory with you. I loved the author's writing style after reading her article, About Time, in Vogue US (July 2014). I decided to give her debut novel a try.

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacob
With depth, heart, and agility, debut novelist Mira Jacob takes us on a deftly plotted journey that ranges from 1970s India to suburban 1980s New Mexico to Seattle during the boom. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is an epic, irreverent testimony to the bonds of love, the pull of hope, and the power of making peace with life’s uncertainties.

Celebrated brain surgeon Thomas Eapen has been sitting on his porch, talking to dead relatives. At least that is the story his wife, Kamala, prone to exaggeration, tells their daughter, Amina, a photographer living in Seattle.

Reluctantly Amina returns home and finds a situation that is far more complicated than her mother let on, with roots in a trip the family, including Amina’s rebellious brother Akhil, took to India twenty years earlier. Confronted by Thomas’s unwillingness to explain himself, strange looks from the hospital staff, and a series of puzzling items buried in her mother’s garden, Amina soon realizes that the only way she can help her father is by coming to terms with her family’s painful past. In doing so, she must reckon with the ghosts that haunt all of the Eapens.

What's on your list? Do share your Friday Finds too. Happy reading!


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

On Arranged Marriage and Love

Nearly three decades after their arranged marriage, Mira Jacob's parents did the one thing she never saw coming. They fell in love.

I didn't hesitate in buying Mira Jacob's debut novel, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing following a captivating read of her article, ABOUT TIME. The article (not the book) is about her parent's arranged marriage (they did fall in love after 30 years!) and how her parents' relationship shaped her own.

Before I talk about the book (in tomorrow's Friday Finds), I'd love to share more about this article. I found this gem in the July edition of Vogue US. As I sat on my throne (a.k.a the loo), flipping through the pages on my iPad trying to catch up on mag backlogs, the intro (or kicker) and the author's beautiful smile caught my attention. I knew I had to read it.

It flows so smoothly—the author articulating beautifully the way her parents behave around each other and their sudden change of behavior—that I couldn't stop reading even if I tried hard. I'm over simplifying things here but this is one emotional read that brought tears to my eyes.

I love her parting words. Read this...

By then I knew that committing to each other would not mean that I never felt scared again, or even that I was permanently safe from heartbreak. But it would mean that for as long as we were together, I would be part of something larger than myself. And I felt thankful then—truly thankful that my parents had found each other, and given me a different idea of what marriage could be, after nearly 30 years of living coolly side by side.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Pompeii

Pompeii is so huge that it took me more than four hours to explore just a part of the whole site. The map was confusing but all was well in the end. I strongly recommend a guided tour (sourced on your own) or at least an audio guide (available on site for rental), and finally, it's best to start at Point No. 1 in the Brief Guide to Pompeii issued at the various entrances. I will be sharing more pics on my Facebook Page (The Weekend Traveler) when I have better Wi-Fi connection back home. Come with me now!

THERMOPOLIUM. The thermopolia were some sort of public snack bars that served hot food and drinks. It was a norm back then to have lunch outside home. The sunk jars were where all the goodies were contained. There were about 89 of these snack bars in Pompeii.

This is one of the larger houses in Pompeii. I'm sorry I did such a poor job at noting down the names of the houses. There were many notable houses and all with interesting names such as "House of Caecilius Jucundus", "House of Amorini Dorati", "House of the Tragic Poet", "House of Apollo", and many more.

This one is sort of like a pedestrian crossing of the ancient days. To cross over to the other side without soiling your clothing or shoes, you walk across on these large flat stones.

Visit the official Pompeii website here (Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni archeologici di Pompei Ercolano Stabia) OR get your Wikipedia fix here.

Have you been to Pompeii? Do share your experience!


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Use a Mind Map to Improve Your Vocabulary

I found a very useful article while browsing through my Facebook newsfeed. This article is about using mind mapping to improve your vocabulary (check it out here) and I immediately thought about implementing it for my Italian language self-study.


Mind maps are not new to me but the concept of using it to improve my vocabulary is very interesting indeed. I am currently looking for a mind map tool on iPad and can't wait to begin mind mapping verbs (see excerpt below).

Memorize the different forms of a verb. An example is “to write” (which you should write in the circle). Then, connect lines to different forms of the verb “to write”: “write,” “writing” (present-tense verb), “written,” “wrote,” “writing” (as a noun).

I also foresee a regular weekly section for my blog coming up soon showcasing my mind maps on Italian verbs (or for other future foreign languages for the matter). Stay tuned!

Do you mind-map? What apps are you using? Please share them!


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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Top 10 Food I Miss

Now two months into being in Italy, I am missing local Malaysian food so, so much. I can't wait to sink my teeth into these yummies the moment I set foot in Malaysia in September... All photos are mine, in no particular order I present you:

Beehoon Siam *gnam*

Economy Fried Mee (Noodles) *gnam*

Fried Kuey Teow *gnam gnam*

Fried Rice *gnam gnam*

Maggi Goreng (I SUPER MISS THIS!) *gnam gnam gnam gnam*

McD's Breakfast (Egg McMuffin and Hashbrown) *gnam*

Nasi Lemak (ANOTHER SUPER MISS!) *gnam gnam gnam gnam*

Roti Canai *gnam gnam*

Satay *gnam gnam*

Wantan Mee *gnam*

My non-Malaysian friends, have you tried any of these local food (well, except for McDonald's which is not local—aha!)? If yes, where did you have them?

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Few of My Personal Projects

Vacationing in Italy has clarified and also revealed a few things to me. Here are my thoughts and stuff that I would like to implement immediately in September when I return from vacation.

Never taking home Wi-Fi for granted again. My study plan (with Coursera) and language learning (with Babbel) have been seriously impeded because there is no Wi-Fi in the apartment I'm staying. I don't use my Internet mobile data for this purpose because it is costly. I've reloaded more than 100 for phone credit with mobile Internet. There is one coffee bar nearby with Wi-Fi connection, which I go to quite often. But, it is just not the culture to hang around WITH laptop, iPad, iPhone (i.e. DON'T BE 'ANTISOCIAL'), unlike for example, in Starbucks back home. Everybody here (in Italy) is hanging out with friends chatting away furiously with their hand gestures and loud chats, which brings me to...

My learning plan for the remaining 2014. I'm going to focus on data analysis and for that I've signed up for three data analysis-related courses on Coursera. More about this here. I can't wait to have regular Wi-Fi connection back home to "normalize" and begin my routine once again.

Reorganize my wardrobe. I will be buying a few very affordable and chic DIY shelves to reorg my jeans, t-shirts and knitwear. It is currently a "jungle" and I can't see everything I have. So messy!

Create a home cleaning kit. Having stayed with an Italian family taught me a lot of about housekeeping. I'm now obsessed with cleaning the kitchen stove. My housekeeping kit will contain gloves, cleaning cloths for various parts of the house (kitchen, toilets), cleaning liquid, hard broom, sponge, etc. I can't wait to get started. I usually get domestic help from the janitors working in my apartment in Penang, but this time I will do the cleaning myself!

RM5 Daiso Project. I also foresee myself spending lots of time buying containers, hooks, adhesive, etc. from the RM5 Daiso shop for my reorg project.

Sign up at the gym. I'm still thinking about this one. I have been working out at home for the last four years in my Penang apartment but ever since I adopted Trio, my cat, she has affected the way I workout. By joining the gym, I will be doing what I was doing before relocating to Penang: workout after office, shower and then head home fresh. I could play with her and then retire for the day either reading or studying before going to bed. Sounds like a good plan to me...


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pescheria Marechiaro | Fish Market in Italy

Welcome to the Fish Market, boys and girls! This is one of the nicer shops in south Italy and systematic too. Come with me now...

IL MIO TURNO (MY TURN). First, you get your number.

Then, you wait, of course! Busy day.

Meanwhile, I couldn't help scoping out the place. Look at this swordfish! Che grande!...

Many types of seafood on sale. Squids, fishes, shrimps, prawns, mussels...

You can also buy seafood ready for consumption.

Is the fish market at your place (or country) look like this too? Do share!


P/S: For more updates, LIKE me on my Facebook pages at Alice Teh and The Weekend Traveler, OR FOLLOW me on Twitter and Instagram. See you there!