Sunday, 2nd April '06
Zwei Und Zwanzig
Still amazed by the irony that I am learning more German in Canada than anything else. Well not as much as Sabrina (alas, I am not motivated by a "my darling Nils"-equivalent), but I at least thought I'd be learning French.
"Zwei und zwanzig" is German for "twenty-two", by the way. It took me ages to remember how to pronounce it, but it is a useful word when you have close to 20 Germans asking you how old you are in one night.
This is a big consolidated entry minus the photographs - there should be photos pending, but I need to pull them off everyone else because I was too lazy to tot my camera around.
Juno Kick-Off Concert
It all started with Vicki sending a bunch of the most enthusiastic texts I've ever received from her. The essence of it being: It's the JUNOS!! They start today! Go watch some events. There's a free concert tonight with the Trews!! If you don't go I will kick your ass. (And oh, by the way, I'm too busy with my thesis to go with you, so I'm going to NATO it - BUT YOU HAVE TO GO!) Alright alright mate, I'm going!
The Junos are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammies. Big fanfare, big stars (Coldplay, Nickelback, Bryan Adams, Black Eyed Peas and a whole lot more) flooding into the tiny town for the glitzy night at the Helifax Metro Centre. Which I am going to sadly watch from the comfort of the stained couch in the drty YMCA TV room in about an hour. At least I have Vicki's Mum's EXCELLENT chicken curry with which to occupy myself with.
You won't believe how hard it is to find people to go to a free concert with Halifax Regional Municipality's best bands playing at. In the end I managed to drag Franzi along for the last 2 hours of a 5.5 hour long live music marathon. But it was really good stuff - although poor Franzi doesn't seem to be one accustomed to loud music. She said the Trews made her heart jump *chuckle*. By my standards the Trews were punk music, but we were so far from the stage it wasn't loud. Loud is not being able to hear youself speak the next morning.
The greatest part is we met this 50-odd year old DARLING couple who took the ferry over from Dartmouth to come watch the kick-off. You know the type - guy's balding, woman is all golden-haired but they're still evidently so much in love and hugging and head bopping to the rock music. Young at heart too. And it wasn't even in a "gosh, that's a bit sad" kind of way. Anyway, they noticed the confused foreigners behind them who didn't know the bands playing and explained all about where Matt Mays was from (the DRM, haha) and that the Trews were an Antigonish product... it was nice having someone tell us what was going on.
So yeah, that was Thursday. All a little dampened because I had to run home to prep for that Entertainment Law presentation on Friday.
Despite David's cheeky remarks about how I should be wary of maple syrup since the whole tooth incident, I tagged along with a whole bunch of Germans for a 2 hour drive to the town of Dean for a tour of the maple bush.
Maple bush my ass lah, that was the most rip-off tour any of us had ever been on in our lives.
Trotting down from the Y with Franzi, Jessika and the crazy Linda, we saw Susann (big green coat) and Freddy (big brown coat) already waiting. We were soon joined by Solene (minus Clo and Simon), Stephan, Andre, Per & Michael (and Tim Hortons) and Zerk (drunk/hungover from a mammoth pub crawl, so what's new?). After hanging around for 20 minutes, SMU International Centre dude Ysaac proceeds to squash the bunch of us and a swarm of other international sorts (Koreans, Japanese, Taiwanese and PRCs) into a rickety black school bus.
Ysaac is incidentally the person of the most exotic descent I have ever met - he's gypsy! And a really nice friendly guy... it's hard to bitch about the lousiness of the tour when the organiser was such a personable sort. And of course, once he found out I was Singaporean he asked the ever important question that every real (read: non-exchange) student at SMU askes me:
"Do you know Bryan?"
Funnily enough, I DO know Bryan. In true Singaporean-style, Bryan has his finger in EVERY pie in SMU. Which doesn't explain how I know him, but oh well. Singaporeans in Halifax tend to know each other just by the sheer fact that there are a grand total of five of us in Dal / SMU. Six, if you include Lingwei. Excellent guy, too, everyone who meets me gushes about him and proclaims him as their "good friend". But on about the trip.
Out of a planned 6 hour tour, 4 hours were spent on the danged bus, so it warrants whining about. Cramped as an economy class airplane seat feels after 13 hours in the air, this bus was obviously designed to carry children half our age. Let's just illustrate it this way - the 1.93m Freddy couldn't fit in the seat. When he sat on the seat right up to the back, his knees literally extended beyond the next seat. Heck, MY KNEES were touching the seat in front of me, so for two hours he must have been damned uncomfortable. Add to that the fact that the 1.8m Susann was sitting next to him. Limbs everywhere.
And the rest of the 2 hour ride there and 2 hour ride back was spent bitching about the bus, listening to a Korean dude sing Korean songs and playing guitar (the same dude who we saw at Cheers on St Patty's), taking photos of each other falling asleep (damn you, Andre) and listening to Per and Micheal howl "Soenke has a girlfriend!" repeatedly in German because he was the only one who didn't have a bus buddy and ended up sitting next to a little Taiwanese girl. And I had another "German with Susann" lesson. Can now count till 29. Hollow victory, I know.
Now on to that maple syrup business. We were first brought to a church and alighted the bus with looks of confuzzlement on our faces. A CHURCH? Turns out there's where we had the maple syrup buffet - pancakes, sausages, beans, brown bread, rolls and cake. All alright, I guess. Michael (in the interests of truth, an Italian, not German) and I were quite tickled by the fact that the food was prepped by a kitchen full of little old ladies - you know, the homely-looking ones that look like they could cook up a storm that would make Martha Stewart look like... um... Henghwa. Sorry Dage, I couldn't think of someone else who's really bad in the kitchen. Heh. Still, I think I would have made a better old lady lah. Like Andre said, for the 20-bucks we paid for the tour, we could have gone to Smithy's instead.
So we did the eating thing, asked for seconds, and had dessert. All decent, I suppose.
Then back onto the bus ("Soenke has a girlfriend!" refrains in the background. Boys need to grow up.). A few more minutes drive and we reach the "sugar shack". "Sugar shack" in BIG FAT INVERTED COMMAS.
It was a wooden room with one metal machine in it. The machine had a firewood furnace burning at one end and propane at the other and essentially all it did was evaporate the evaporate the excess H2O from the maple sap so you get the dark brown syrup. Firewood is used at the start because it's cheap and then propane is used to finish it off because it's easier to control the heat and you can shut it off at exactly the right moment. It takes 40 portions of maple sap to make one portion of syrup, and the sap changes from a clear, colourless liquid to a dark reddish-brown liquid by the end of it. There is no change in viscosity. Whee, haven't totally lost my Chemistry QA skills.
We were also told about how you tap the sap off a maple tree by sticking a tap into it, and progressively changing the tap positions in a spiral pattern, either down or up. And how all the taps are linked by piping. I.e., not like rubber-tapping.
And that was it. We walked around the machine. End of tour.
Left to our own devices standing on a dry wintered-out field for 45 minutes to walk around and take pictures and wonder if that was then end. It was. That field had nothing on but weeds.
I wish I could have seen just ONE maple tree. *sigh*
The Last Night Out
What started out as a planned post-maple syrup after party eventually turned into one llooonnnnggggg night with which to remember my last day being 21. Essentially I was doing my usual "let's tag along with the Germans and see what high jinks they can get up to tonight" thing, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable days here.
[I refuse to have birthday parties just coz I simply cannot bear the thought of forcing people to be in a place to celebrate the fact that I've been put on this Earth. I'm just inherently uncomfortable with that notion. For the past 10 years I've just sort of decided to have my fun with whomever I'm incidentally hanging out with at that time. And it's taken me from TCC with Smubs to sitting by the Singapore River with TC/Aud and the "Secrets" cast. It's much more exciting that way.]
The general lot met at 6pm at the Oasis, and various folks trickled in later. I gave up any plans of writing the major paper and trotted down about 7:30pm to find more people than I've ever seen in one place together. It's funny how I've started to think of people in "defined units", but there were the usual suspects of Susann & Freddy, the French Fries (Clo, Solene, Simon), the German Boys (Andre, Zerk, Per) & Michael and the rarely seen ones like Anja & "Ianz" (I really cannot spell the name), Stephan, Dominic & Alex, and people I've never met or never talked to (the names Andy, Tim, Kyle might float around but I can't always assign names to faces). I guessed what I like about that was that there were endless people to talk to and endless stories to hear and share - something that has become a bit rare now that I've been here long enough for social circles to have solidified. And it was a really great mix 'coz you sort of knew everyone well enough to have good conversations, but you didn't know them so well or see them so often that there was nothing new to say. The Oasis was absurdly abandoned for a Saturday though, quiet as a graveyard. But it's easier to talk like that.
We even got unwittingly involved in some students' beer commercial. All we had to do was look happy and yell "Grab a Canadian!". Molson, that is. The irony was that everyone at that table that was boozing was drinking Keith's. Sheesh.
After getting more German numbers coaching from Anja and her bf, and getting hiarious "Eminem" storied from Dominic... we started getting a bit bored. And we all know that most people get funnier as percentage alcohol in blood increases and percentage boredom in brain increases. So by 9pm I was getting treated to a side-splitting performance of German football cheers. I'm laughing now just thinking about it. Andre, Stephan and Susann clapping and yelling and punching the air with their fists going "Shalala-lala-lala-la HEY HEY!" and putting dirty spins on the old "Ole Ole Ole" cheer.
Then, because no one believed me when I said that Sloan was probably the best band playing that night - probably because no guy wanted to go to Reflections - we ended up at the Warehouse. And once we were there they nua-ed so long about the price of cover (10 bucks). Also because the beers were 4 dollars, I think. And because of that, the less picky of us waited outside. And because of that, I walked in on Tim (I think his name was) peeing in a bush:
Me, talking to Alex, notices a figure furtively facing away from the crowd but standing pressed up against the side wall of the Warehouse. I turn around to take a closer look wondering what the hell is going on. Suddenly the figure turns around and I realise him as one of the guys we were with at the Oasis. I'm about to say something when...
"Well don't STARE AT ME!"
And Alex bursts out laughing and I finally realise what just happened. Why do these things always happen to me... Now that I come to think of it, some guys get stuck when you stare at them. Should have done that. Haha. Like Dad used to stare at my dog to get him stuck. *chuckle* Dad can be so silly.
So we finally get inside and the guys spend inordinate amounts on the beer (4 bucks a beer must be murder, considering how much they need). Clo, Solene and I discover $5.25 cocktails (HUGE cocktails) which were a heck of lot more interesting. And then the bands started playing. At which point we discovered that we were in a place that was a little big high-class for us. As Alex said, we single-handedly brought the age-average down to about 25. It would otherwise have been over 30. Even the music (4 Juno nominees and 1 other band played) were jazzy / reggae styled offerings. Essentially they must have been the nominees in all the "World Music" type categories. At least the opening band was decent and the girls (and the ever-groovy Michael) managed to get some dancing in. The last band was pretty good too, but that was still a couple of hours away. In between we got tortured with the boringest carribean / reggae I have ever heard. Interestingly enough, one of the really bad acts won "Best Reggae Album" at the Junos.
THEN, Solene started cursing the Carribean singer's French. It's amusing how a mild-mannered girl, at least 3 beers and a Tequila Sunrise later, manages to yell "that's not French!" with abandon. As time wore on, our boredom with the music manifested in other self-amusing tactics. Once chitchat became impossible and we started getting hungrier, Micheal started stealing Doritos. The funny thing was we then found out the Doritos were to be given out for free anyway. And then we took ALL of them. Between the group of us we took ALL the Doritoes. No one in the rest of the bar had any.
And then the MINTS. Now that was trouble in the making. Between us we spoilt the market for the rest of the place lah. They had a few hundred little cute plastic dispensers of mints to give away and we totally hantum-ed the mints as well. Not even because we wanted mints but because the packs were so cute. So then we had more mints (or "pills" as Per insisted on calling them) than we knew what to do with.
Possibly the best thing about these Juno concert-party things are the freebies. It was about the time what we had finished amusing ourselves with the Doritos and mints that the JAEGERMEISTER GIRLS emerged in their red coreset-ed glory. To approach the obviously most obnoxious group in the place and turn us into Jaeger ambassadors. So that involved everyone getting plastered with the Jaeger tatoos and having our pictures taken for their advertising thing in silly positions. I was this close to, but ultimately couldn't convince Zerk to get the thing on the forehead, dammit. And then we sort of self-amused for a bit longer until...
Michi and Susann: "Five minutes to midnight!"
Oh yeah, I'd kind of forgotten that birthday business. But ultimately the whole lot of them were incredibly sweet... threats of singing birthday songs and stage announcements etc. Managed to settle for bear hugs from everyone. *sniffle* It was all rather memorable, haha. This must have been the only time I've ever been congratulated by this many people at one go, including people whom I didn't know. This must have been the first birthday with non-Chinese. This must have been the first birthday that didn't end with me having to run home by 12 or miss the last bus. And you must have seen this coming, but this must have been the first birthday with alcohol involved. Oh well, experience, eh? I have yet to figure out what some birthday wishes meant though. Andy's "so you're 22, that's almost 19, right?" is still unfathomable. I'm not sure people can count when drunk, though.
By the way, this is what Mum sent me a while back:
geokkwee: En, it's your birthday in about a week. Don't go for a big celebration. A few friends for a quiet one is enough.
en ying: haha, ma, i wasn't really planning much anyway. But why?
geokkwee: your friends may take it as an excuse to drink and get drunk.
*chuckle* It's really heartwarming that she thinks about the minute details of everything like that. I mean, it's always great to know your parents (i) remember your birthday, (ii) are concerned about your well-being, and (iii) are concerned about your friends' well-being even if they've never met your friends. It's just so absurdly hilarious that they have NO IDEA what my friends here are like. That they don't NEED excuses to get drunk. At least, anything associated with En Ying does not exactly scream "drunk fest". And that they don't get drunk in the pukey, "end up in hospital with alcohol poisoning" sort of way that my friends who drink in Singapore do. I don't know. It just hit me as a realisation about really HOW DIFFERENT the world I live in now is.
It just so happens, as Alex opined, she told you to have a quiet one and you went out with a bunch of GERMANS?
Well, we can't plan EVERYTHING!
And just as that musing was beginning to take hold, OUT COME THE JAEGER-GIRLS WITH TESTUBES OF JAEGER SHOTS. They were giving them out FREE. Notably, of course, they came straight back to the obnoxious bunch that they first did the tatoos on. Oh well, just whack lah. For all the being 22, I suppose another growing-up ritual was in order. For the record, it didn't taste as bad as all it was cracked up to be lah. But the point is, I've never seen people move faster than when the girls came up to us. They came first to me and the French girls, so we were the only people who actually got served. The rest of the German guys just descended on the trays like zombies in Dawn of the Dead, pulling and clawing away at the rack. It was hilarious. Zerk, who was sitting apart from us at the time, actually RAN, going "Hey! Hey! I want!". He managed to grab the last one standing. Damn funny lah, these boys. Even the usually sedate Alex was like "Jaeger!! GERMANY!! YEAH!!!!". And guess who would be the only guy to score TWO shots? Michi, who else.
So after one massive "bottoms-up" salute - the sight of a lot of young punks waving testtubes in the air is amusing - the obnoxious lot just managed to get more obnoxious. We had Simon bouncing like a rabbit on the dance floor, Solene blindfolding Andre with a Jaegermeister orange bandana (goodness knows where he got that) and then later throwing the mints into Per's beer, upon which the poor fella literally started hollering. Haha, my favourite part was playing basket ball with the mints and Michael's mouth and actually scoring... and then throwing the spare one at Andre. Who was so distracted that he didn't notice when it bounced of his head.
The problem with that with that particular exercise of the "try everything once" philosophy, is that no one ever told me the Jaegermeister was a bloody DIGESTIF. If you don't know what that is, it's like the German equivalent of ENO POWDER. You know that "ENO puts stomach fires out, that's what it's all about!" jingle? Kind of a self-medication that you take after scarfing too much food. The only problem was that it was 12:30am and the last thing I had eaten was a sandwich at 5:30pm. There was friggin' NOTHING in my stomach to digest.
Will spare the sordid details, but essentially, could feel the efferversence. The bottomline is, I know alcohol and Asians don't mix, but I seriously didn't expect to get GAS. This is also where I make a bad pun about German Gas (Singapore slang for "farts"), and acknowledge that it's a pun in very very bad taste. Thank goodness it only started to reach epic proportions when I got home. Too Much Information, I know.
So that was about it lah. Just milling around and then some of us went home while the 4 psychos progressed to the Alehouse.
And on the way out QIONG CALLED!!! Muahahahaha. YAYYYYY. Thanks Qiong. Another first time experience - running up the hill from the waterfront, the wind blowing like CRAZY, so much so that she couldn't hear a thing I was saying. I was laughing so hard because she kept yelling "I can't hear you!!" on the other end - the wind was carrying off everything I said and blowing feedback into the phone. In the meantime, my stomach was still effervescing. Kaoz.
Dim Sum with the Europeans
Managed to drag a bunch of them out again for lunch - had a Great Wall craving that needed to be settled. And I also wanted to take them to some REAL restaurant food. Not the egg roll / sweet and sour pork fast food crap.
This has been an absurdly long entry, and if you're still here reading it, I take my hat off to you. So will summarise it really fast:
- Started out by handing everyone menus. Food was so authentic that they all stared at the menus, closed them and said "En Ying, can you order for us?"
- Maitre'd comes and gives us the order slip. You know how in dim sum ordering you have write down what you want. Order slip is entirely in fantizi! So maitre'd says he will give it to the "华人", much to everyone's amusement.
- Ordered the usual shebang of charsiew sou, har kow, siew mai, charsiew bao, custard bao, chee cheong fun etc etc.
- Europeans are nice and serve tea. Problem is, while I'm not looking, they pour the tea into the SOUP BOWLS. I stare in shock.
- Teach Europeans how to use chopsticks. Proves to be a harder task than expected. Susann is hilarious... knitted brows, stubborn pigheadedness in getting it right... and announcing it to everyone each time she picked up something. Let them play for a while, but by the time Freddy's har kow started bouncing across the table, I decided it was time to ask the waiter for forks and knives.
- Forks and knives obtained. Table heaves a collective sigh of relief. 7 pairs of chopsticks out of a table of 8 disappear. No more bouncing har kows, thank God.
And last and certainly not least... thanks for all the wishes from the folks. Especially Susann, Freddy, Jessika and Franzi for the balloon and chocs and movie. And Qiong for the phone call again. And Ningz and Erge Dre, and Dage Heng, and Roy, and Bene, and Charlotte, and Liang for the spectacularly failed Skype call, and Debbie, and Alex (Wee), and Bert (my dear rooster brother, it's your turn damn soon too). And Auntie Lillian for wicked food once again. And Tzo for the gorgeous homemade e-card. And Vicki for the Tim Hortons mug and teapot - she was a bit high on her thesis writing, so:
vickisicky is smelling the red of days:
the curry cannot keep too long.
and happy tims mugs!
the pot was sooo cute so I got it for you!
you can dangle your tim's mug on the outside of your backpack when you go back to singapore!
like in the advertisements!
and then the cute canadian guys will come up to you and ask you: so, are you canadian? I'm canadian! want to hang out?
en ying "intellectualproperty.tragedyoftheanticommons.tollbootheffect.stiflingcreativity.":
are you alright?
vickisicky is smelling the red of days:
en ying "intellectualproperty.tragedyoftheanticommons.tollbootheffect.stiflingcreativity.":
that thesis is doing bad things to you
Yeah that's it. No school tomorrow either, Family Law cancelled. Wheeee.
[14 photographs developed.]
hey enz! i managed to read through ur horribly long entry haha aint i the best.. i like the part about dimsum with europeans..hilarious makes me have a yum char craving take care in canada and be good! [u had a shot! i'm impressed ]
OMIGAWD. I actually finished reading that thing *LOLOL* At least now i know the full story. Actually i could hear you pretty well. YOU couldn't hear me =_= I was trying to tell you that I was laughing myself sick on the line cos you were complainign about the wind and I could imagine your face and what you were doing. *lol* hokay, i was just damn high that night. Too tired already O-o So sorry i had to cut you off too...i was literally falling asleep on the couch ^^
but as i can see, you had a great birthday ^^ which was the whole point of it *grin* and the pouring tea into bowls thing is just...*ROTFLMAO*
yeah babs, you are. i can't believe you did that!
yum char... *slurp* eh. go home must have dim sum buffet at heng's teochew restaurant place.
sweet home singapura! (i dunno why this song keeps running through my head). when are you coming to halifax to meet the yandao i found for you, hmm?
ooh and qiong... what was even more hilarious was me trying to translate things like "char siew sou" and "harkow" and "chee cheong fun" into english lah.
DID I TELL YOU I FOUND LIMIN THE PERFECT MATE?! HAHAHAHA. shit. i want her to fly to halifax NOW.
maybe he's perfect for u..that's why u keep gushing.. *slaps forehead a la henghwa*
no. YOU. *bounce bounce bounce*
ooooh. tell tell. what does he look like??? *waves to limin* how are you girl??? ^^
hahah ok ok whatever my dajie says haha qiong i'm good how's ur luuurve life?? muahhha
i can tell you: no more KEK sim *heeheeehee*
haha.. i actually enjoyed reading the entry.. more more!
whaddaya mean "ACTUALLY"?
haha.. i can so imagine enz going
my name is NOT "enz". can you guys not listen to limin and her ridiculous penchant for adding "z" to everything?
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