Three firsts


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The past weekend was a weekend of firsts. Three to be exact…

An innocent question

On Friday I was meeting Kelly for dinner. I had left the apartment a little early to go to Kinokuniya bookshop in Suria KLCC to do some research on interior and furniture design[1. Designing a dining table and a coffee table are some projects I’ve set for myself.]. On my way I bumped into John, the first friend I made upon arriving in KL, who had just finished a meeting and was having drinks with some work people. I hadn’t seen John for a few months so I ditched my research trip and joined them for a drink (surprise, surprise) while I waited for Kelly to finish work.

I met John’s Malaysian friends (who’s names I’ve forgotten [I really should get better at that]) who had ordered drinks for themselves already. Their drinks arrived — iced lemon teas. Ahh, Muslims. I thought I’d better ask if they are OK with John and I ordering beer, which of course they were. As it happened happy hour was RM15 for one beer (about $5.00 Aussie), with a second beer at RM1 (~35c). Awesome. Our beers arrived and we sat there getting to know one another and talking nerd IT stuff. (John and his friends are in IT). Pretty soon we were talking about other things including the Burning Man festival and all it’s drinking, dancing, and hippie-drug-taking. Still on topic, but in a break in the conversation, Friend A turned to me and asked “What does beer taste like?”

What does beer taste like? Holy crap! I’d never been asked that question, and it sure put me on the spot! I thought about it for a few seconds, but instead of focusing on what beer tastes like, I found myself pondering “How do you describe the taste of beer to someone who’s never consumed alcohol?” It’s similar to the way dictionaries must describe a word without using the word in question in the description.

So, how did I do? After a couple of false starts, I zoned in on comparing the taste of beer to the smell of wet pizza- or bread-dough as it’s rising. In short, a sort of tangy, sharp, fermenting smell. With a bitter finish. Friend A seemed happy with that, and I was happy to have helped him understand. It was an innocent question, and I sensed perhaps he was slightly embarrassed to have asked. Maybe he had some dutch courage after his iced tea? I tried to make sure he didn’t feel his question was silly, after all, if you don’t ask you’ll never know. I also told him he probably wasn’t missing out on much. That may have been a lie.

A Moto GP

On Sunday we were invited by some new friends to attend the Malaysian Moto GP. There were two reasons we agreed to go: to meet some new people, and tickets were only $35 Aussie! How could we say no?

We arrived in the middle of the penultimate race with the 600cc bikes[2. Don’t quote me on technical figures, I’m far from a petrol-head]. Now, I’ve seen many a Moto GP on telly when I was growing up. And by seen I mean watched while flicking to find another channel, or watched because nothing else was on. TV on Sundays — Fail. Anyways, we had seats in the grandstand along one of the two straights, and bloody-hell, those bikes go fast. I decided to take my camera and try my hand at shooting some fast sports action, and I must admit, it is a lot harder than it seems. Did I mention those bikes go fast? And it wasn’t even the 990cc[3. Read above footnote] race!

I didn’t feel much exhilaration when the bikes flew by, it was more a curiosity and amazement at the speed and the control. From our vantage point we could see a couple of corners in addition to the straight, and the way these guys would accelerate after the corners was impressive. The co-ordination and balance was something to behold. You could see how the bikes lunged forward after a corner and even wobbled slightly as they took off again. I felt the riders were treading a fine line between taking the corner and accelerating. At the top levels of any sport there’s an ‘edge’ an athlete treads to get the best performance — constantly on the verge of catastrophically tipping over. I really felt this with the Moto GP riders. It was impressive.

A Stingray

On Sunday night the Moto GP crew and a few others headed out for dinner in Bukit Bintang, a night spot about 30mins walk from our apartment. Bukit Bintang is an area we’ve just started exploring so it was great to have somewhere to go with people who knew the area. The crew had agreed on a Chinese restaurant at the end of what I might start to term China-tang — the Chinese part of Bukit Bintang. The amount of activity at 9pm was exciting.

We ate at ‘the mickey mouse’ place (which has a mickey mouse out front, apparently, but I didn’t see it). The group had already ordered and we sat while drinks were being served. After 15 minutes or so the food arrived — an eclectic mix of dishes, but nothing too hardcore: marmite BBQ pork, lemon chicken, some veggie dishes, and, pan fried stingray.

99.9 percent of the time I live by the moto ‘try anything once’. And this was sone of those times. I watched Karen explain how to eat it to the person next to her, so I was ready when it swung around on the lazy susan.

Removing the meat was similar to removing the meat from any fish, except instead of many needle-like bones, the stingray had one plate-like cartilage bone. The flesh was stringy, a bit like shredded chicken in a sandwich. The taste was exactly like flake you get at your local fish ‘n’ chip shop, which was a pleasant surprise! I enjoyed it very much, and I’ll no doubt order it again next time I head out to China-tang. (James, you’ve been warned.)

It was a great weekend.