28 December 2008


We saw this on TV in Japan and Mr. P just found it again on Youtube. So patient!

06 November 2008

The world breathes a collective sigh of relief and hopes for the future

Even if he turns out to be a disaster of a President (which I doubt), it's got to be a change for the better. I can't say I'd ever want to do that job though...clean up after GB?, the man has got guts!

09 October 2008

An unbelievable likeness

Check out Little Gordon

And at home

01 October 2008

We did it

We did it
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
Finally, all of the coursework has been turned in. I thought it'd never end! I just have to do my final practicum of 7 weeks and then I am home free. But that will not be nearly as stressful as the coursework. It'll be just like having a job, only I won't get paid:-( This has truly been the worst educational experience I have ever had. And I've had a LOT of educational experiences! Anyway, I'm trying to wipe it from my mind and move on with my life.
I'm meant to be preparing my poster presentation for the CLESOL conference this weekend and I can't get motivated. My mind and body have said, "Right, you've finished your coursework...that's it! There'll be no more work doing in this house!". But what my mind and body don't understand (Am I going mad?) is that I got a scholarship in order to attend this conference, not to mention getting my stuff accepted. So, I can't just forget about it.
I'm just feeling so run down and tired.
I really need some more rest, but after this one last push to the weekend and the conference. The good thing is, if I ever get my presentation finished, I get to do it on Friday so I can just listen and enjoy the rest of the weekend at the conference. What's the point of all this drivel...I guess I'm hoping the conference fairy will hear my plea and drop out of the sky and sort out my stuff! Conference fairy...are you there??

31 August 2008

Please get smoke detectors!

We both sat up at the same time asking what the hell that banging was. Finally we realised that someone was banging to get in and went downstairs to see smoke everywhere. Mr. P found his keys, which ironically are always kept by the door for this very reason except for last night, and opened the door. Tonnes of smoke. A fully kitted-out fire fighter came in shouting, “Stay here! I’m gonna push this fire out.”. So, not having any idea as to how big it was or where it was, we waited in the flat staying as near to the door as possible in case we needed to run out, but moving back as the smoke came in further. As we started to realise where we were and what was happening we could see stuff around us. I grabbed my cellphone. We put on shoes and jackets. Still waiting. Our door is at one end of the room, and at the other end is a ranch slider/ sliding glass door with a small balcony and a tree outside. We were thinking that it would be easy to go down that tree. This, I believe, kept us from panicking as the smoke came in. There were four fire engines, and eventually one left, so we knew things must be under control. We could hear lots of talking that sounded calm so we were starting to feel a bit more relaxed and reality was setting in as to what had just happened.

It was all so sudden. From a deep sleep hearing someone banging on the door, to seeing a fireman in the flat surrounded by smoke. He was a short bloke and I kept thinking how he looked like a Lego fireman, all triangles and rectangles. Anyway, I can say that I did NOT smell smoke and get woken up! This is what I always thought would happen because I am often a light sleeper. Our smoke alarm didn’t go off because it’s in our room. We have one downstairs but it’s not in a good place (we’re moving it) and the smoke wasn’t enough to set it off in our flat. The fire could’ve easily got up to our door before our alarms would’ve gone off. At some point Mr. P heard one of the fire fighters say something like, “Pull the fire alarm when you go down”, or “You should’ve pulled the fire alarm when you went down” to somebody. So, basically you can’t rely on other people. You’re really not thinking straight when it happens anyway. Take care of yourself. Have working smoke detectors everywhere and also have escape routes planned, anything you can do to keep yourself safe. And that includes when you are on holiday. When I think of some of the dodgy places we’ve stayed in around the world I can’t help but think how lucky we are. It’s not that I didn’t think about it, but you come to a point when travelling on a budget that you think, “Oh, it’ll be OK.”. Just choose wisely. I’m sad when I think of people who don’t make it out of fires, and especially, those they leave behind. One of my Flickr contacts, sadly, lost her brother and sister in law to a fire this year. I really feel for her and her family. Please take care in any way you can.

This morning there is a burnt out cooker on the pavement out front, so we know that somebody in number 30 was cooking late at night and somehow it got out of control. I’m so glad everyone is OK (there were no ambulances) but I really hope that bloke got a wake up call. I know we did!

12 August 2008

Assignment time already

Yes, three weeks into the semester and we're off! In fact, in the first week we were meant to have found some random kids, interviewed them on their knowledge of the water cycle, and then teach them something they don't know...yeah, right! Many of us don't even know any kids so we had to go a-begging back to our practicum schools about whether we could use a few of their students. I could only get year ones which are 5 and 6 years old. I can tell you that "zaperation", as they called evaporation, was way over their heads. Still, beggars can't be choosers and this course is all about processing assignments rather than having meaningful teaching/ learning experiences so I'm plodding on. Next week I will teach my peers all about electrical circuits...riviting stuff folks!

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
— Douglas Adams

27 July 2008

Silk Road Cooking

Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love, love, love this book! I got it from the library and I fear that I will soon be paying overdue fees as I can't bear to part with it. So far I've made a palow that was absolutely delicious, and I've got my eye on many more recipes. I am fascinated with Central Asia and I really loved the travelogue/ anthropological viewpoint of the book. Plus the author has filled it with delicious stories and quotes from Rumi. I agree with the other poster who said she'd spent more time reading it than cooking!

View all my reviews.

27 June 2008

Falling Cloudberries

Falling Cloudberries: World of Family Recipes Falling Cloudberries: World of Family Recipes by Tessa'>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/374416.Tessa_Kiros">Tessa Kiros

My review

I've marked this as 'read' even though I don't own it. I mean, it's very expensive! So, I just look at it in the bookshop over and over and plan to get it from the library soon.
This is exactly the cookbook that I've wanted to write for some time and Tessa Kiros has beat me to it. The recipes are driven by the mish-mash of cultures that she and many people have within their own families (myself included). She gives just enough personal information so that you get a sense of what the recipes mean to her. She illustrates how the various types of food can be representative of many cultures and also of one person's personal culture. We are not all unicultural, in fact, very few of us are so I'm surprised nobody has done this earlier. Especially since food and culture are so intwined. I would recommend this to any modern multi-cultural cook or anyone who is interested in cooking and identity.

View all my reviews.

The perfect hangover cure!

The perfect hangover cure!
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
Oh, I see my blog is still here even after having been abandoned for so long.
I'm having the day off from my teaching practicum because I've got a pooey flu. I guess I'm in need of protein and sugar because this is what I was in the mood for. Yes, the ol' PB&J. Despite having been born in the USA, I never really ate this much when I was a child. But while I was at uni in England, I was actually (re)introduced to this by a (British) friend, as the world's finest hangover cure. However, it has to be on toast...oh, everything on toast!

28 May 2008

End of semester

End of semester
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
I’m learning a lot about myself by doing this course.

I always knew that the stuff we make our students do in the classroom in an effort to get them to use the language rather than just ‘study’ it off the page, was not something that I’d like to do if I were learning a language (which, technically I am…but that’s another story). I mean, tonnes of research goes into making up all these games and activities in order to make the students move around the room and use English with different people, and they seem to like it. Maybe it’s generational??

I can see that the tutors on my current course are making some half-baked attempts at getting us to learn in an interactive and communicative way, but some of them don’t exactly get the idea behind it. If we work in groups or move around the room, it should be for a purpose other than just working in groups or moving round the room. Anyway, it annoys me no end. I really just want to be left alone to take in the information and get my notes down.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that I always feel, for some reason, not quite right when I’m sitting in a lecture-style class, and we are all squashed into some airless, crappy little room with blinding glare coming off the powerpoint screen and not enough table space to work on. I just think lecture-style classes should be in lecture halls. There’s something about sitting in a lecture theatre that helps me take things seriously and get down to work. The setting seems to be really important to me. I mean, how do you know you’re at university if you never sit in a lecture hall? I know this is all ridiculous, but it’s all about the environment with me.

The other thing I’ve learnt so far is that I love academic courses (ie. theory and research) I hate practical courses (“This is how we plan, and this is how we teach so run along and try it out for 6 weeks without any pay”). I love, love, loved doing my MA. Even though a dissertation is a big undertaking, it always felt like a process and never felt (too much) like hard work. It was my own thing and I got to read, research, and write intensively on my ‘thing’. But this course is just the practical and boring bits about teaching…yawn!

So, so far from this course I’ve worked out that I’m
A) old-fashioned in my learning style, and
B) a hopeless romantic-academic

They should really have a conversion course that is 10 times shorter if you’ve already been teaching for a while. I secretly resent being in the classroom for 16 weeks out of the academic year and not getting paid for it (especially since I’m skint!). Well, it’s not that secret but I’ve only told select people as I don’t want to look like a show-off, know it all. But every time a teacher at one of the schools talks down to me for being a “student-teacher who doesn’t know what it’s like in the real world” and makes comments like, “Oh, you’ll find out what teaching is REALLY about when the students don’t want to do their work and you have to do a lot of paperwork…” I’m just biting my tongue like nobody’s business!

Apparently we had no less than 13 assignments and exams to complete in the last two weeks. I didn’t count as I was on auto-mode. Talk about “quantity, not quality”! I’m still recovering from the lack of sleep and am grumpy as hell which explains this entry.

And, by the way, I know this is crap, rambling writing that has no beginning and no logical end, but too bad. It’s my blog and I’ll ramble if I want to!

11 May 2008


We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgement; more experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness; We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies then ever, but have less communication; We have become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are times of fast foods but slow digestion; Tall men but short character; Steep profits but shallow relationships. It's a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.
The 14th Dalai Lama

23 April 2008


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

17 March 2008


Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
On Friday I was just thinking, "oh no, my throat is a bit scratchy", only to wake up on Saturday morning unable to swallow properly. On reflection, I realise that this stressful episode in my life has been going on since October 2007 when we first started making reservations and organising things for coming home. Wow! Being that it is now the ides of March, this has been going on for 5 months! I can't believe I haven't been ill sooner since I've been feeling pretty run down and tired of it all for ages. So, I'm counting my blessings and hoping for a quick recovery. Panadol has been my friend so that I can swallow down some nutritious food, and I've tried the ol' Strepsils to soothe my throat, but I've never been into boiled sweets, so I haven't had many of them. Ginger and honey tea (...which I love, so it's really all just a big excuse for having ginger and honey in my tea!) and lots of sleep has been the best thing. Woe is me! But I have to say that it had tp get THIS bad before I stopped and had a couple of days in bed...at least I haven't got "manflu"! >>>

16 March 2008


What's the word for that overwhelming feeling you get when you do something that you've wanted to do for a very long time?

25 February 2008

What a difference a day makes

View from the flat
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
Well, a few days, but still! This is what I saw out my window on the day we were leaving the flat in Shibata. Talk about Seasonal Affected Disorder, it hadn't even been snowing that long yet but we were well and truly ready to get to the New Zealand summer.
Things have been really difficult. In fact, it's been the most difficult move I've ever made and that's saying a lot for me. I've made no less than 7 international moves, and god only knows how many domestic ones. But this one just seemed to drag on and on. I think the big difference is that Mr. P had to start work, and I had to start my course only two days after landing. We didn't even have a place to live yet! Every waking moment was focussed on getting us settled somewhere, and so we managed to find a place on about day 7 that we moved straight in to. There was nothing in the flat, and I mean not -a-sausage! So we slept on the floor a few nights until a kind person on my course offered up some foam mattresses for us to borrow. We also got into the storage unit and amazingly, after 4 years, everything was still in pretty good nick albeit full of dust. So we got the chilly bin to keep our milk in and started buying bags of ice so we could keep milk for tea. Finally things started coming together and we obtained a new bed and fridge. We now OWN stuff! Now there's a novel concept. We've just this week managed to get our stuff from the ship (from Japan) and clear customs as well, but it's pretty much box heaven round here. It can only get better, right?
All in all, it's been stressful as hell, but we are really glad to be back!
BTW, this is what it looks like out our window now.

12 January 2008

Sayonara Japan

Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
Houses in snow country with no insulation, tiny kitchen without a work surface, putting down and picking up your bed everyday, cycling to work in rain and snow, people who stare, variety shows, people who run away, people who look in your trolley at the supermarket ot follow you round picking up things you’ve just put down, empty seat next to you on a packed out train, people who sit next to you, realise that you are foreign, and then change seats, sardine trains of Tokyo, bacon in everything, sweltering hot and humid summers, concrete everywhere, and sleepy students

Tatami in the summer, cycling to work in 5 minutes, quiet Buddhist temples, okonomiyaki, ancient matsuri, second-hand kimono shops, cycling out to Nail for curry, rice padi, cold soba, bento boxes, Niigata sake, beautiful furoshiki, Malaika, sesame spinach, ski trips, creative licence with my classes, excellent boss and head of department (caring friendly and a bit mad), lush potluck dinners at J & J’s house, Nojiriko, red caps on stone Buddhas, Loft, Shibata cycle path, mitarashi dango, enlightening conferences, beautiful mountain backdrop, diverse and amazing long-term expats, Tokyo, convenience stores with everything in them, free tissues on the street, nice pottery, onigiri, my friends, my students, Shinkansen, ekibento, tsukemono, not having to wear a suit in the land of suits, cool postcards, natto, nabbana, mochi, and excellent 100 yen shops

11 January 2008

Rest in Peace Sir Edmund

Rest in Peace Sir Edmund
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
There just aren't really that many heros anymore, but I've always held this man to be one of mine. Deciding to climb a mountain, traverse Antarctica to get to the South Pole, build a school or hospital, and then just getting on with it is an outlook I admire. Modest but driven, a true blue Kiwi and a citizen of the world. Your life touched the lives of many. Sending blessings for your biggest adventure. You will be sorely missed!

01 January 2008

Happy New Year from Japan!

Happy New Year from Japan!
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
Wishing everyone a lovely, lovely year of the rat:-)