Super September

Coffee time with friends from
Singapore Consular office in JB
I will start with a quick flashback to July when my friends in the office of the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore in Johor Baru, asked me to join them for lunch.  They read my story on the first outlet of Fat Cow Burger opened in Taman Molek and could not resist having a taste of these juicy burgers.  So we arranged to meet there and it was my pleasure to introduce these gentlemen to Fat Cow’s fast-food service concept.  
In a matter of months, while I was in the UK (August) and busy with various events happening in the city (September), Fat Cow – a halal restaurant – has opened their next outlets not just in JB but also in Singapore.  A city outlet is now open at a ground floor corner unit of Plaza Mentari along Jalan Kuning at Taman Pelangi so diners in this area can pop by for a taste of their juicy burgers.  In Singapore, Fat Cow Burger is at Temple Street in the heart of the city so if you are planning to go now, you can join in the colourful Deepavali festivities happening in that neighbourhood!

Tony Johor Kaki with fellow bloggers after our
 sumptuous food-tasting at The Grand Gem restaurant
Gavin, one of the diplomats I was dining with, was delighted to discover that Fat Cow is not all about beef but they also serve a range of chicken burgers that his wife may enjoy.  (We met again recently and I was told that he and his wife were back at Fat Cow again to savour their burgers – with much satisfaction!)  

After our delicious burger lunch, we made a unanimous decision to have coffee.  And since we were in the area, we headed to nearby Taman Mount Austin to check out Just Want Coffee at Factory 30 – a chic coffee place – to savour their coffee and indulge in exquisite tiramisu cake for dessert.

Ruby and I arrived safely at KLIA from London
And it was just like yesterday when I was with Tony of Johor Kaki and several bloggers for an exciting food-tasting experience at The Grand Gem restaurant in Hotel Grand BlueWave JB.  Their menu of North and South Indian specialties was certainly a good choice for the breaking-of-fast meal and before I knew it, suddenly the entire Ramadan month whizzed pass and I was packed and ready to leave for the UK.   

While our nephew’s wedding was the reason for the trip, it was also an opportunity for a family reunion and to explore and experience the English charm again.  As I sorted out my holiday photos, I know I must to write a few stories about our adventures besides what I’ve already shared about our summer holiday.  There is so much to write about but it must wait until I have rested and recharged my batteries. 

Luggage loaded in my car and ready to leave KL
I can relate to people who come back from a trip and say they need a holiday after their holiday.  That’s because of their packed holiday itinerary but as for me, even before I fully recovered from jet-lag, I plunged right back into non-stop work.  The use of electronic devices can sometimes be a bane because even though I was abroad, I still received info and invites to events in addition to the shows and activities in the JB Arts Fest and Iskandar Learning Fest. 

My sister, Ruby and I arrived in KLIA by MH 001 on Aug 29 and the very next morning, I drove back to JB.  The usual 3-hour drive took more than 5 hours that day because of traffic congestion on the highway due to the Merdeka holiday weekend.  I was just flat out exhausted but was glad we made it home safely because I saw that our arrival was much anticipated by our dear dad.  He even marked his calendar (large enough for him to see!) with a reminder that our return was on Aug 30…

Reminder that dad wrote on his calendar!
I must admit that I was in such a blur that I clean forgot about an appointment that was set up way ahead for the first Saturday of September.  I had a rude shock when I was reminded about it but I have no regrets about keeping that appointment.  In fact, I’m grateful for the opportunity for a walkabout on the back roads of Senai with an anthropologist who not only is knowledgeable but has a passion for her work. 

This officially kicked off a frenzy of going to events and activities organised for the JB Arts Fest and Iskandar Learning Fest that often over-lapped.  In the evenings I tried to catch shows and performances particularly by artistes who were invited to the JBAF for the first time and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch Ajith Bhaskaran Dass perform in a special showcase by Suvarna Fine Arts.  

Weekends were especially crazy when I was literally shuttling around the various venues for events held concurrently in the two festivals.  One day, I was at three different events and had to go back to two of the same venues twice in the same day!  I don’t know how it did it but I did it.

Paladin - 5 Cellos - rocked it out at JBAF
One of the highlights of September was the inaugural Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA) event that was graced by patron, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Johor Menteri Besar and key personnel of Iskandar Regional Development Authority.  I was a guest at the glittering event where I met representatives of NGOs and individuals who are nominees and many unsung heroes in our community.  Some 22 NGOs and individuals were recognised for their selfless contributions and the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO) was honoured as the recipient of the prestigious Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Iskandar Malaysia Ultimate Social Hero Award.  

Datin Pat Lim [2nd from Left] after receiving
award for JARO from Tun Abdullah
When I congratulated Datin Patricia Lim, who received the award on behalf of JARO, she told me that JARO shares the award with me because my regular coverage of JARO activities has helped to raise its profile in the community.  I was surprised by this acknowledgement as I never thought that my work was such a significant contribution until then.  I’m just glad that JARO is being recognised for their many years of training and employing the disabled and helping to give these artisans dignity in their lives.

Later, Edey and Marco, my friends at The Iskandarian, told me about their visit with Tun Abdullah to invite him to attend the IMSHA in Johor Baru.  Besides bringing the Malaysian traditional buah tangan, they also brought along samples of their publication to introduce Iskandar Malaysia’s official newspaper to him.  Edey said that as Tun Abdullah turned the pages for a quick review he paused significantly longer at page 10 to admire the page with My Johor Stories!

Marco and Edey looking on while Tun Abdullah
looked at My Johor Stories in The Iskandarian
September is well and truly over but it’s almost end October before I finally find the time to recollect some of the interesting happenings last month.  In all the excitement of events and shows, I had the privilege to meet with many interesting people like the intriguing and irrepressible Simon Mr Specs Murray.  But this is a subject for another story.  

Meanwhile, I’m still longing for that elusive quiet retreat where I can just rest and recharge. A stay-cation would be nice.  Just three days and three nights of sleeping, reading and lazing around.  When?  I just don’t know when it will happen.


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