Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Not Enough Storage



(Decided to just ditch the digits at the end of my Not Enough Storage series because I foresee myself losing count at some point in the future anyway haha)

Come everyone, near and far, come come.

We are all gathered here to welcome a new member to the family with open arms.





That's right, guys, I've successfully lured Mama into the wonderful abyss of KDramaland. I feel like I've just completed my share of fardu kifayah #donedakwah hahah. I'm overjoyed and proud beyond words, because man, will you just look. At. THAT! Mama's all grown up now, I'm not crying you're crying :') Ahhh. Group hug, avid KDrama-goers!!! It took plenty of effort to not smile so widely when I read Mama's message whilst in clinics with a consultant yesterday afternoon.

Kids, this is why you shouldn't play with your phone in clinics....

Oh right, speaking of clinics and consultant, I'm now doing a different module at a different hospital placement. This time around the uni sent me to an exile outside London.

There were a lot of worries that arose when it finally dawned on me that I was going to have to be out of London for several months, but my main concern was

how do I live without Ulfah?!

The morning of my departure, I zoomed through the flat in my frantic search of all my essentials, punctuated occasionally by Ulfah's "Your oil cleanser!" and "Rice cooker!" etc., like the human form of Reminder app that she is.

And then I told her I couldn't find my glasses.

She nonchalantly said, "Dalam beg you,".

I told her that I'd already looked in my bag but they weren't there but I looked again anyway to prove her wrong but lo and behold, there my glasses were, tucked in one of the small compartments inside.

I recount this anecdote to illustrate one point and that is : How do I live without Ulfah?!

Anyway, it's so different here compared to London. For one, there's a lack of auditory stimulation. No police or ambulance siren going off every 10 minutes, no distinct whoosh sound of tubes storming by, no constant reminder to "Mind the gap,". The hospital that I'm now attached to is so much bigger than the previous one, with far fewer students. It differs from the previous hospital in many ways, but I'm still adjusting & trying to familiarise myself with how they roll here, but




so good.

Get itttttt?

Sofa, so good?

Hehe.

Here, let me show you the view from the window in my room.

The sun says Hello! Annyeong, sun.


Yesterday's exceptionally thick fog made for a rather sinister view



Turns out it is possible to live without Ulfah, it's just no fun.

But not to worry as I can always go back to London on the weekend, like the one just recently, the one where I - actually, Ulfah and I both - spent the majority portion of under the duvet.

Weekend situation. My movie was on another tab, this educational tab was solely to mollify the guilt of not getting any studying over the weekend haha



She also cooked ayam masak kismis for me!!! Ulfah is capable of various good meals, but I'm telling you, her ayam masak kismis is a clear winner because

How can it not be when it looks THAT good and guys, it tastes EVEN BETTER?


My relatives had yet another one of their far too many get-togethers.

Not keeping score of how many I've missed for the past 7 years (since my boarding school MRSM days), but it doesn't get easier :( Still hurts every time I see photos of them all fun and smiles with a deficiency of Vitamin Me. They also had a collective birthday celebration for the January babies, commemorated with our family tradition of pouring fragrance powder all over the birthday boys & girls!

Atuk rocking that Geisha look, and Nenek in her unmistakable element of Wardrobe Mismatch Syndrome



I find it amusing how we never get tired of wasting one whole bottle of fragrance powder for every birthday celebration, but ahhh I guess every family has their own tradition thing going on, be it for birthdays or Christmas or Chinese New Year, anything really. What's yours?



Sunday, 22 January 2017

KDrama Review : Dear My Friends




I didn't want to admit this, but let's face it, the current situation in KDramaland is a freaking eruption of dramas, all attacking me left, right, and centre yelling "Watch me!", I'd be fooling myself if I were to believe that I'll have time to watch each and every drama. At some point, I was overwhelmed because on one hand, I wanted to stay abreast with the current frenzy among my KDrama-watching friends but on the other hand, I didn't want to waste my time watching meh dramas when my intuition tells me there are far better undiscovered dramas out there. Several times I tried to get on the hype with everyone else, but every attempt I made turned out to be unfortunate, because the payoff fell short of the grandeur that the hype promised. So I told myself that never again shall I succumb to the internet buzz, but to stay true to my KDrama instincts, which led me to Dear My Friends.





This drama was truly a stroke of serendipity. I dived right in not knowing what to expect and good God was this drama a pleasant surprise! Not only did it boast a stellar performance by the entire ensemble (and I mean the entire ensemble, main and side characters, all of them), it was also beautifully written & directed, paying a wonderful tribute to elderly people.

I can understand why it's easy to sweep this drama under the carpet. With the number of star-studded dramas, all offering cast with taut skin & stunning looks, floating about at our disposal, the old fogeys of Dear My Friends may not hold the appeal that people often look for. But this drama proved to be brilliant despite its lack of collagen. There's no shortage of acting abilities here, I can promise you that. I mean, you know it's powerful acting when you feel like watching real-life mundane people caught on camera rather than actors at work, which is what it is with Dear My Friends.

The most unexpected performance was one from Lee Kwang Soo. Thanks to Running Man, the Prince of Asia and his ability to put people in stitches need no introduction now. But I was stunned to find out that he can make me cry too!! The scene of him and his mum lying on the floor was a real tearjerker. And the one in the cinema when his mum leaned on his shoulder & dozed off? Sedih. Nak. Mampus. Another show stealer is definitely the character Hee Ja, breathed to life breathtakingly by actress Kim Hye Ja. It's not easy to play the character who is slowly slipping into dementia - looking confused and determined, independent and helpless, wise and infantile, all at the same time - but Kim Hye Ja did so in the realest way I have ever seen. It's like watching a repertoire of all her acting years in one single character, and what an honour it was.

This drama is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, the latter often manifest in tiny bursts when I least expect it. The number of times I was reduced to ugly crying.... T.T It's also difficult impossible to have just one favourite character, I find myself switching loyalty with every episode because how can I not when Chung Nam's sassy remarks hit everyone setepek in the face and Hee Ja's childlike ways were too adorable to watch and Jeong Ah's decision to leave her husband had me brandishing my fist in the spirit of women empowerment and and and 

My point is, good luck loving one character from this drama, because I'm telling you, you'll end up loving all of them as they drop everything & rush to a friend's cry for help with no question asked, you'll love them for their beautiful friendship that stands the test of time, divorces, miscarriages, marriage patriarchy, saggy breasts, etc. You'll love all of them for all they are, warts and all.

As much as I was emotionally invested in the old girlfriends and their problems, I didn't think I'd care that much for Wan's love story, but yeah, of course I was wrong. Of course I cared for Wan and her boyfriend and their tragic separation. I didn't think their love story would steer into maudlin but of course it did. The scene with that truck of doom left me gasping, and honestly there's still a dull ache that spreads across my chest whenever I think about it again. It's so vivid in my memory, almost like an indelible tattoo on my retina. Wan's frustration with the older women was easy to relate to, but I loved that despite that, she still went out of her ways to help them in whatever ways she could. I also loved how Wan's honest narration opened up about her own insecurities and selfishness, using her mother as an alibi to mask her own inability to deal with what happened to her boyfriend. Her character was so carefully peeled back layer by layer, it was thoroughly delightful to watch how she works through her response to all the events happening around her.

A lot of things from this drama hit close to home for me. It reminded me of my mum, my mum's best friends, my aunts, my grandma - all the women in my life that I cherish with every fibre of my being. It raised some issues still prevalent in many societies that I won't delve into but the most impactful one was that it made me realise that my mum is a whole person on her own before she is my mum, does that make any sense? 

I've always seen my mum as Mama, aka the person who pays for my nasi lemak and the person who makes sure the I have fresh, crisp laundry to wear and the person who makes sure hunger is a choice I make instead of forced upon myself, but this drama reminded me that Mama is also a woman who enjoys reading her Malay novels, watching Malay dramas on TV3 & Astro Ria, and sewing colourful beads on the sleeves of her baju kurungs. Allah brought Mama into this world to discover herself and live her life, not merely to fend for my needs. It hit me like a truck that Mama cooks because she genuinely loves cooking primarily, and the fact that her cooking is crucial to keep me & the family alive is secondary. I can't believe that all this while I've been selfish to only think about my being 20-something searching for the purpose of life, completely ignorant that Mama, too, is possibly still looking for hers even at her age. Self-discovery is a lifelong journey, and motherhood isn't the end destination, it's part of the journey.

I liken this drama to a homecooked porridge made with so much love, to nurse the sick soul back to health, to remind that youth lies not in age but in spirit. I also think this is like Reply 1988 meets Age Of Youth, so if you like any or both of them, chances are you'll love Dear My Friends! Watch this for a good cry, and simply for a good viewing experience because it really is a solid, well-made drama. You'll need tissues though. LOTS OF TISSUES. 

To summarise, this drama is actually one of my favourites now!! In fact I made my mum watch this and she loveeeeed it! My mum's a die hard drama Melayu fan so for her to enjoy a KDrama like this is truly saying something hehe.



Hyung & Kimi No Na Wa



Annyeong, yeoreobun! :) How's everyone doing?

As I'm writing this I'm just past the midday mark of Sunday. My weekend so far has been laid back - both literally and figuratively, I've been under the duvet for God knows how long haha. I feel like I've squeezed every drop of energy out of my body throughout the week in the hospital, that came the weekend, I kind of lost all desire for independent movement. At this rate I might as well assume the existence of a hibernating bear, what with the chilly temperatures!

I watched 2 movies back to back and suffice to say the long hours I spent under the duvet were not wasted and I'll tell you why.

The first movie I watched was Hyung.



I picked this for one reason and one reason only and that's Kyungsoo - my mushy, squishy, adorbs penguin Kyungsoo. By the time the credits rolled, however, there were plenty more reasons I loved the movie.

First and foremost, ugh Kyungsoo-ya you've really outdone yourself, this is the best acting you've delivered so far methinks. I sound like a proud mother (wipes tears of joy) but how can I not, I've seen Kyungsoo slowly building his acting portfolio from minor roles to main ones. It's like planting seeds of longevity in the industry and reaping sweeter, riper fruits with each fruiting season. My Kyungsoo is on his way to be a massive star in the industry!! But it would be unfair to throw accolades and confettis on Kyungsoo alone when what made the movie so entertaining to watch was largely due to his undeniable chemistry with Jung Seok. They're both indubitably great actors, but when they're put together, damn, they worked synergistically. This combo is truly a thousand, gajillion times greater than the sum of its parts.

Hyung features dark comedy that slowly metamorphoses into a tearjerking story of brotherly love. I found myself trying to stifle a tear more than once as I was moved by their off-the-charts bromance. The storyline itself isn't something out of the world to be honest, it's not mind-boggling to the point that it haunts you for days on end, no. It's your typical sport-themed epic tied in with family tale, two tropes that have been recycled to a certain extent in motion pictures, but in Hyung they were explored in a way that pulls at the heartstrings with just enough tension. Add a decent screenplay and a pair of competent directing hands to that and you now have a recipe for a movie that warms the heart and the eyes.


The second movie was an anime titled Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name).





I have never watched any kinds of anime in my whole life, ever, until today. What an exquisite movie Kimi No Na Wa is, from the animation to the storytelling. The movie swings back and forth between concrete jungle of the city and mountain shrines of the country as it explores and sends the Freaky Friday concept to an untouched, celestial territory. The juxtaposition of modern and traditional, science and superstition, past and present, male and female, day and night, reiterated throughout the movie was soooo refreshing, I've never experienced something quite like that in any other movies before.

Kimi No Na Wa delicately illustrates one point, that is, love transcends the dimensions that we humans occupy. It is not here nor there, it is somewhere in between. That kataware doki scene of violet twilight where the juxtapositions collide was exceptionally beautiful. And to see the two leads being reduced to no trail of memory but a mere sense of longing, a dumbfounded desperation for someone, for something, God, the pain was brutal. You know the phrase so close, yet so far? Never has it rung truer than in this movie.

"Dreams fade away after you wake up." as Mitsuha's grandmother puts it, but not this movie, man. This movie will enchant me in a trance-like state for awhile.

Guys, there's only a couple of movies involving time manipulation that I managed to enjoy - About Time, a British movie, and Signal, my second favourite KDrama ever - but let me tell you, Kimi No Na Wa is definitely up there in the list. Go watch, please!



Saturday, 14 January 2017

Harry Potter



So the second week of 2017 arrived and brought with it harsh winds, frosty pavements, rainfall, snowfall, and the kind of coldness that bit at my exposed fingers and numbed them to clumsiness, so much so that I spent a good couple of minutes in front of my flat door because I couldn't turn the key in its lock. My mind & body are still in denial that I'm back to studying, a part of me wishes I'm still on my Christmas break, still in bed reading Harry Potter books, still in wordless sobs upon learning Dumbledore's death. And Dobby's. And Hedwig's. And Fred's. And Sirius'.

And the most remarkable death for me: Snape's.

I know, I know, I'm 10 years late.

But man.

Why did Snape have to die?

J.K. Rowling raised a lot of issues that sent my mind into frenetic overdrive and created unique characters that convey different life lessons each - Voldemort taught me that life without a nose is barely breathing love is barely living - but of all kinds of stories, I didn't expect the Harry Potter series to give me a love story.

Let alone a love story from a character like Snape.

To spend what, fifteen? Seventeen? years being Voldemort's faithful Death Eater to spy on Dumbledore when he's, in fact, a Dumbledore crony disguised as a Death Eater to spy on Voldemort, maintaining his triple agent role until his final breath, without ever being under the suspicion of one of the most adept at Legilimency, is incredible. But to do that solely in the name of love for a person who isn't even alive anymore? Wow.

Time and again Snape puts his life on the line to rescue Harry, in ways that Harry can't even comprehend initially, despite Harry being the product of Lily's union with another man. Snape's unfaltering love for Lily is just refreshing for me; he loves Lily because he loves Lily, he doesn't expect his feelings to be requited, he has no benefits to reap from his affection, he just... Loves her, in the truest sense. He loves her wholeheartedly, unconditionally, irrevocably. It's one thing that he's willing to switch allegiance for her, the fact that he marches on in life without once tempted to go back his old Dark Magic ways speaks volumes of the affection he houses in his heart. Even when she passes on, his love continues to burn a passionate flame.

"After all this time?"

"Always,"

I think this is the purest form of love there is, love without the greed to be loved back.

Not only is Snape loyal to Lily, he's loyal to Dumbledore as well. He's so loyal to Dumbledore that he has absolute confidence & trust in Dumbledore's wisdom, that he sets up to the task of killing his confidant in order to protect everyone else. Even if it costs him to brand himself as a murderer in the eyes of the people receiving the protection. Because that's the sort of man Snape is, a man who has little care about recognition, a hero who doesn't mind to be seen as a villain, because that's the right thing to do.

But of course, you can't really call Snape a hero.

He uses his past against Harry and friends on the grounds of teenage grudge when he himself is a full-grown adult. Turns out maturity doesn't necessarily come with age. And that's not the end of it, he abuses his elevated position as a Teacher to project his hatred and years-old angst on, not all students, but a select few. I can understand his favouritism for Slytherin when it comes to Quidditch because it's a competitive sport after all, but in class? That's just wrong. I can't tolerate a teacher who doesn't put students on equal footings in pursuit of knowledge, because not only does it jeopardise the students' future, it can do more damage to their self-esteem. One would have thought that of all people, Snape knows it best how the scars of troubled childhood & teenagehood run deep, but in proving this point, he scars the teenagehood of another person.

Snape's character is not painted as either black or white, but he's the grey area of limbo in between, and that's exactly why he's my favourite character. I know all of the characters in the books are somewhat flawed, but Snape's flaws and flairs were crafted in a way that perfectly illustrates the human complexity; there's no simple binary to classify humans into good and bad.

If Snape is my ultimate favourite character, Dumbledore comes a close second. I love Dumbledore both as a character and the clever purpose of his character. Dumbledore is a character that commands respect from me as a reader, out of intuition, because he oozes a sense of calmness that I can only associate with high level wisdom. It's part of the reason why I believe in Snape; Dumbledore believes in Snape. I love how he knows when to acknowledge the wisdom that he's acquired from aging and when to acknowledge the drawbacks of aging. Too often I see old people who are too egoistic to admit to their mistakes just because they think all those years of life ought to make them right all the time. Dumbledore breaks this stereotype so nonchalantly, he apologises for his mistakes to Harry without even losing Harry's respect for him.

I think Dumbledore's wit & intelligence to meticulously dissect Voldemort with spot on accuracy is a brilliant narrative device. Without Dumbledore's character, Harry would be clueless about what to make of Voldemort. Without Dumbledore's character, Voldemort would have to divulge his motives and explain his reasonings behind his every action, just like every other typical fictional villain. I'm glad J.K. Rowling didn't go down that road because that take on evilness is horribly blase.

Oh God guys I'm such a Potterhead, okay.

It's not even funny anymore.

If my writings aren't enough to attest to that, I have photographic support, taken from my recent visit to a Harry Potter exhibition at House of Minalima.






Why so Sirius


Gi mampus Umbridge -.-





Padfoot? You mean Snuggles?

There's even a corner for Weasleys Wizard Wheezes!!





Monday, 9 January 2017

Autocorrect



A broken phone necessitated an alternative means of connecting with other people, such as the iMessage on my laptop, which I've never quite liked because of the Autocorrect feature. Alas, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And a random night that happened to me was a prime example of desperation. I had to tell Ulfah.








Don't you just hate it how Autocorrect thinks it is always right?

How arrogant Autocorrect is that it wouldn't even for one second consider that it is, I don't know, wrong?

How obsessed Autocorrect is with the need for everyone to bow down to it, to agree with everything it says?

How ignorant Autocorrect is of the fact that sometimes, there isn't just one way to do things? 6 times 2 equals 12, so does 3 times 4.


Made me realise that no matter how confident I am with my notions, I should always reserve a little space for scepticism, a healthy amount of curiosity. Moderation once again presents itself as a recurrent theme.

Can you imagine where we'd be today in terms of technological advancement, had no one dared to challenge the concept that Earth was flat? Can you imagine what would have happened if the Portuguese explorers hadn't gone circumnavigating the Earth because everyone at the time held a firm belief that if you went sailing to the end of Earth, you'd fall? Can you imagine what would, or would not, have happened if people of ancient times refused to believe in the discovery of spherical Earth and instead stuck by the ideology that Earth is flat? I wouldn't even be here, continents and oceans away from home. Travelling wouldn't be possible, international trading wouldn't have happened, revolution would be a far fetched idealism, intercultural relations couldn't have been forged, you wouldn't be able to go to a faraway tropical island & post a photo of your sunkissed skin on Instagram(!!!). Shocking.

Wah look at that spin, from Autocorrect to the Magellan voyage to spherical Earth.

Moral of the story is, kids, it doesn't hurt to be a little humble & to open up a little to criticism.

That, and also, turn off the Autocorrect feature.








If you have any funny Autocorrect stories please do share, hehe.





Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Not Enough Storage 2.0



Some time ago I came up with a blogpost spurred by my camera roll clearing spree. I've decided to adopt that very same idea, so here's the second instalment! Haha.

Despite my complaints about Scarlet Heart : long name drama and Baekhyun's substandard delivery of Wang Eun's character, I was actually excited when I saw the 'Which Scarlet Heart prince is your soulmate' quiz on Soompi! Ulfah and I did it at the same time on our own phones. Tension ran high, and then I shrieked in glee because

I got Wang Eun!!! Yayyyy hehehe

Can't remember now which prince did Ulfah get, but not Wang Eun. Ngeheh.


My fate crossed that of another furry friend!

The cat's soooo manja!



Don't know if you remember, but at the end of this blogpost I hinted that Emma was coming to London. And it happened, of course, KHouse reunion happened!!!


I didn't have to beg my way to get them to strike the showtime pose!!! :')












After my exam the other day, I decided that I deserve some kind of reward so I cooked some nasi lemak! Okay well maybe I just wanted an excuse to cook nasi lemak, whatever, haha. I even gave some to my friend Jane, who has a great liking for Malaysian food, she loved it. Hehe.

LOVE OF MY LIFE






My aunt went to Langkawi and brought my grandparents along, there was this one day that the Whatsapp group was bombarded with adorable photos of Atuk & Nenek. I couldn't help smiling the whole day!!



Nenek back at it again with her Wardrobe Mismatch Syndrome, aisehmen

Cuteeee





Like every winter break, Ulfah went back to Malaysia. If you say the sentence 'Ulfah went back to Malaysia' fast, it sounds a lot like 'depriving Sheera of a trusted KPop buddy and letting her rot in loneliness in London'. Try it. The day before she flew back, we spent the day together roaming around London, watching the city in its Christmas spirits.



That's the spirit!





My winter break was spent mostly at home. To be more specific, in my room. To be even more specific, in my bed under the duvet in various inappropriate positions as I flipped page after page of the Harry Potter books.

A few times in between I went out to see some friends. I met with Farah one lovely morning for breakfast, over which we talked about everything under the sun. It was delightful, love love love meaningful conversations!










Also went to this Indonesian restaurant called Warung Padang with Hadri, Najwa, and Shaza Pizza to try their ayam penyet.

SEDAP. GILA.






Dinner with Marc and Syafiq was another enjoyable affair! I remember laughing till I almost cried one moment and feeling sombre the next moment as we vented about our lives. Ahh.






Oh! Ji Chang Wook photos that I took from Instagram, hehehe. I didn't delete them of course - my phone can never have enough Ji Chang Wook photos - but I thought I'd show my man off here because he's a great actor; he's handsome, humble, funny, and he looks a lot like my future husband. Coincidence? I think not.
Love him with his hair up


Love him with his hair down!





And here comes the highlight of my winter break.

Drumrolls please.

MY SOULMATE, SHAZA, CAME TO LONDON!!!!

I picked her up at the airport with a banner, heheh. And then we spent few days being tourists around London. Loved having her around!! And after living with me for 3 days, I caught her humming the OST of my life hehehehehe :B











Much love from yours faithfully! Take care, guys! :)


Monday, 2 January 2017

Goodbye, 2016




Happy new year, blog!! I hope-

What's with that look?? Hey! Stop throwing things at me! STOP PUNCHING ME! Hey-

You didn't blog for weeks and neglected your blog to collect dust and cobwebs and now you're back wishing happy new year as if those long weeks of hiatus did not happen?! That's a pretty daring gambit for a chicken like you, Shahirah!!

Okay, okay, I know I haven't blogged in ages!! I'm sorry!!

Stop. Hitting. Me!!

I'm sorry, okay? I know full well that saying I'm sorry doesn't make any difference at all but.... what else is there for me to say but sorry? Haha. I mean, is it too late now to say sorry? 'Cause I'm missing more than just your bod-

You think this is a good time to be funny and break into a song?!

OUCH THAT HURTS.

Alright, I'm sorry, okay? I really am! I'm sorry for the long absence, and for starting this post with a preamble so ignorant that it sounded like an attempt to invalidate your weeks-long suffering for my lack of blogposts, but you'll be happy to know that I'm about to make up for it!


---

Sorry you guys had to witness that little drama between me & my blog. Is it weird that I reckon my blog as an entity with whom/which I have a relationship of bizarre dynamics, rather than a medium through which to interact with other real humans? Haha.

Anyway, happy new year, yeoreobun! :)

I know right, where the hell did 2016 go?! Are you shocked because I know I am.





What the hell did I do in 2016?!

Well, let's start with the resolutions that I made public here on my blog. One of them was to exercise more control over my KDrama pursuits i.e. to NOT finish a KDrama in 2 days, and I remember breaking this very resolution just 3 days into 2016, but thenceforth, I think I've done pretty well in keeping my KDrama obsession in check. I even started watching a KDrama while it was still airing, in other words, I experienced the agony of waiting for new episodes on the weekly, all the while evading spoilers left, right, and centre to preserve the virginity of my viewing experience, only to find myself in deep frustration once the drama came to an end. I never wrote about how I feel about the ending, or about the drama as a whole, have I?

I might as well do it now.

First of all, Scarlet Heart : Moon Lovers : Ryeo could do with a simpler, more straightforward title. I sound like I'm being on a whole new level of pettiness by whining about a KDrama title being a mouthful, but see, from the title alone I can feel that there is a clash of opinions on the writers' end, and they couldn't come to a consensus so they decided to squeeze all opinions together to put the matter to rest. This showed a lack of communication & understanding, possibly also a lack of a single authoritative voice to make the final call.

And from there it kind of just snowballed into a disorganised mess of poor directing choices, awkward camerawork, unimpressive script, choppy music editing, unconvincing acting, and mediocre plot development. Don't get me wrong, I'm no professional, especially about all the technicalities, but if I, an average KDrama fan, cannot help but to notice all these widespread shortcomings, I think that's saying something. How often do you, while watching a movie/drama, notice a weird camerawork and think "Umm why am I getting an close-up view of this character?", or notice that a song starts/ends abruptly at all the wrong cues and think "Why is this song being played, it doesn't fit the feel of the scene at all,". Is it just me who had all these thoughts while watching Scarlet Heart : long name drama??

I hoped it would get better with each episode, I wanted it to get better, I cajoled myself into believing that the weekly wait was worth it, and sometimes it did get better, but scarcely. The fluctuation of the quality was so unsettling for me, I cringed every so often, yet I still waited every week and watched every episode earnestly.

How did Wang So & Hae Soo get together again?

Oh right. None of us knows, because their romantic development is concealed within the 1 year that the drama decided to jump across. Tahu tahu dah bercinta, what in the world..? Heck, I feel like Hae Soo & Wang Wook's loveline was more believable and more aptly handled despite Wang Wook not being the one I'm rooting for.

Hae Soo's character was not my favourite right from the start, I put this down to personal preference, but the final few episodes just proved to me that her character's just, for the lack of better word, stupid. Not at all a good female character. Let's see. She got upset that Wang So punished her friend Chae Ryung with death penalty when a) Chae Ryung obviously lied to her, betrayed her and b) Wang So was doing his job, that is, to be a fair king. Then Hae Soo made a show about wanting to leave the palace and all and in doing so, breaking Wang So's heart and leaving Wang So with no source of comfort & support. When she finally left the palace, she wrote all those letters to Wang So asking why he hadn't visited her, aka wallowing in self-pity and playing the victim card when uh, hello, she left the palace on her own accord!! Can you imagine what would happen if Hae Soo actually got a grip of herself and remained steadfast & faithful by Wang So's side instead of throwing tantrum about having her 'friend' killed?

You know what, don't even imagine that. Wang So seriously deserves someone better, someone who puts the greater good & justice before her own selfish wants. Ugh so geram with Hae Soo.

Acting-wise, only Lee Jun Ki and Kang Ha Neul impressed me, only these two that I don't mind getting close-up shots of. The others were mehhh, even Baekhyun (sorry bb I love you but you have PLENTY of room for improvement ok).

I feel like Scarlet Heart had the potential, had an amazing storyline idea, had all the opportunities to be great, but all of these slipped through in the hands of inexperienced writers/director/whoever's in charge. It could have been a fantastic drama, but that's all it is, it could have been. But guess what, for what it's worth, I liked Scarlet Heart. I liked the issues & concepts that it raised. For its good and bad, it's a drama that I don't regret watching, and this comes from a rather weird, special place in my heart. I won't go as far as saying it's among my favourite dramas or it's a good drama, but it's a drama that I will never forget yet most probably will never rewatch, ever. The OSTs, though I find badly edited into the drama, are on repeat on my lips.

Oh wow will you look at that, I just wrote several paragraphs worth of kdrama rants.

Another small resolution was to not blow my food when it's still smoky hot. This one was a tricky resolution, I felt like I was walking straight into a trap after I made this resolution.

Because I regularly cook here in the UK, and every time I cook I'd have to have a taste of the food before it's ready, to ensure that I've put enough salt/sugar/whatever. It's not exactly easy to taste something straight out of the cooking wok/pan/pot without blowing when smoke is still emanating, dancing in an upward motion from the food. But I have tried to hold it off, to wait a considerable length of time, before I had a taste. As it's almost like a reflex that I tend to blow hot food, not blowing my food has taken conscious effort, so I'm guessing this is a learned skill that takes time. On several occasions that I actively thought about it, I succeeded in suppressing the reflex. But on other occassions, I blew my food without even realising it. So was this resolution a success?

Well...

But does that mean I failed this resolution? Not exactly. I'd say it's a work in progress, and I'm headed in the right direction.  

What else did I do in 2016? God, I didn't achieve anything at all in 2016, did I?

But that could be because I'm expecting to achieve big, significant missions, forgetting about the small hurdles that I overcame and little positive improvements that I've made. Like, I've added more choices in the variety of veggies that I can tolerate! Asparagus. Aubergine. Broccoli!! I actually like broccoli guys - hah, that's a sentence I never thought would come from me - not because of its nutritional values, but because I genuinely like the taste of it.

2016 also saw me incorporating more fruits into my diet. At first this, too, required conscious effort, daily reminders in the form of inner monologue "Oh hey I haven't eaten a fruit today! Go to the kitchen now, Shahirah, and grab a fruit.", but after a while, it became like a habit, a necessity even. You know how you brush your teeth in the morning, you don't even have to actively decide to do it, do you? You just do it! Like Nike. Like breathing, like it's a part of your autonomic nervous system. That's how eating fruits is to me now. Nowadays I grab a kiwi straightaway first thing in the morning! All throughout the day I'd frequent the kitchen to have grapes or mandarin oranges. My bag to lectures/hospital is never without a banana or an apple. If someone gives me a basket of kiwis for my birthday I'd be over. The. Moon!!

Over the summer break of 2016, I came to realise that I'm allergic to dairy products and flour. Not the anaphylactic kind of allergy, but the acne/pimpley kind.

For the longest time, I had had pimples & blemishes on my cheeks that persisted despite every imaginable product I'd slathered on them. For one week I cut off all dairy- and flour-based products, and my cheeks cleared up! Like magic! And when I started eating eggs again one day, the following day I woke up to several pimples reclaiming their residential area on my cheeks. Having proven the reversibility and temporality of my hypothesis, I thought it's safe to assume that I've proven the causal link between dairy products & flour and my predisposition to acne & pimples.

It seemed pretty straight forward right, just ditch dairy products from my diet. Shouldn't be too hard, right? It sounded doable in theory, until I realised the number of food I consume that actually contains the offending ingredients.

Eggs, milk, chocolates, desserts, roti canai, naan cheese caramel, anything fried with flour, junk food, fast food..... All my favourite food...... :'( Had to say farewell to all of them.

Explaining to Amie what my allergy entails




We all know it isn't easy to give up pleasurable habits or in this case, food.

And we also know how it is with motivation.





Motivation is fleeting, oftentimes reliable. Discipline has been my key drive.

Of course, bearing in mind that this dairy-flour-pimple link that I uncovered was on the grounds of empirical evidence, a personal experimentation if you will, I have every intention to do the skin prick test. This is to confirm exactly what and find out what else I'm allergic to, and to sort of, you know, have an objective evidence to validate the dairy-flour-pimple conclusion that I drew, but I haven't had the opportunity to do the test. InshaAllah I'll do it in 2017 then, haha. This newfound allergy discovery, along with the addition of fruits & veggies in my diet as well as my Korean skincare regime, gave a byproduct of improved skin conditions alhamdulillah!! Far from perfect, but improved, so alhamdulillah still. Hehe. And my bowel movements have been more regular now too. It could be psychological, mind over matter kind of thing, but I feel good about my body & my health, even though they're not necessarily in a fit state. Does that make sense? I don't know how to explain it. But yeah. Haha. 

Some time in September or October, Ulfah & I started jogging together every weekend. On Saturday nights we'd ask each other where to go jogging, Sunday mornings would bring us to various parts of London :

Jogging at Hyde Park
Jogging at Stratford


Jogging along Regents Canal
Jogging at Victoria Park

I jog as an investment for my old days later, if I live long enough that is. Another reason is I'm responsible for taking care of my body, because ultimately this body is never truly mine, it belongs to Allah, and when the time comes to return it to Allah one day, I hope to return it in the best possible condition. I wish to jog & exercise more frequently you know, but for now, once a week is all I can muster. That's okay I suppose. Besides, aren't the small deeds done consistently the ones loved most by Allah? Hehe.

Entering the clinical phase of my medschool journey brought about some significant changes. I was pushed way, WAY out of my comfort zone. I confess, coming to the UK three years ago made me a timid person. Sure I can write quite well in English, but to speak the language is a different story. Especially British English. I was never very confident to hold a conversation for long with the locals here because the Brits, they speak too fast, and their British accent makes me wish there are subtitles underneath for me to refer to. I always had to take some time to decipher what they just said, resulting in few embarrassing seconds lag before I could respond to them. It made me feel inferior. I also couldn't find anything to talk about with my friends in uni, there was no one that was on the same wavelength as me. In the end, I never really befriended the locals here for real. They're just people I meet at the uni, nothing more than that. The clinical placement, however, forced me to interact with the locals on the daily. Can you imagine how intimidating that is for me?? It's one thing to interact with my uni friends, interacting with the patients is another thing. But alhamdulillah, I learnt a bit. And I'm still learning, there's a lot more to learn. I made mistakes here and there, but I'd like to believe that I learnt a thing or two from those mistakes.

My friend Amir once scorned at the fact that I never read any of the Harry Potter books or watched any of the Harry Potter movies. He said I was missing out on the whole UK experience, but I ignored his disapproval with a wave of dismissal and carried on. But then 2 weeks+ before 2016 ended, I decided to pick up the first Harry Potter book and by 1st January 2017, I reached the back cover of the seventh Harry Potter book. Safe to say that I am now officially a Potterhead!!! 10 years late but who cares!!



At Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station. Bye bye everyone boarding the Hogwarts Express now adios amigos adidas

I'll probably do a separate post on Harry Potter but good God, it's sooooo nice to finish all 7 books and have in-depth discussions with other people (Ulfah, my little sister, and Mina) about those books! afterwards!! It's like blogging KDrama reviews, but with an engaging audience! Hahah.

At this point, I want to remind myself, while I still remember, the things that I may forget, that is to strive for progress. To compare myself to myself and only myself. To aim for my own definition of happy and wealthy and successful and brilliant, but not to look down on anyone who doesn't subscribe the same definition. To keep Allah in my heart in everything that I do. To welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn, but to also try to minimise them, because there are many ways to acquire knowledge - observation, experience, reading, teachers; blundering isn't the only one. To be grateful but not complacent, for complacency leads to stagnancy. To never undermine my own strengths but at the same time recognise my own weaknesses. 

2017 beckons. Happy new year, everyone! Except Dolores Umbridge.