Taiko Tari Online

Life is so full of surprises. You pick a path when you get up in the morning, much to your astonishments, some things can go extremely 180 degrees from what you plan it to be. I'd like to share with you the bizarre incidents or stories in my life.

Monday, November 05, 2007

and the address is...

apparently CLICK HERE! created confusion and problem to some people.

So here's the new addy spelled out http://taikotari.wordpress.com/


Friday, October 26, 2007

It's happening!

Yes, I'm moving.

After some time, I finally gave up on dealing with Blogspot's complicated usability.

For Pete's sake, I just want to write up a post and put it up and be done with it. If I were to want to attempt to do something advanced, the instructions are not particularly helpful, and discourage me to move forward.
The tipping point was when I was forced to struggle to find out how to make the RSS function to work. All I want is to allow my friends to RSS to the posts or comments in my blog, and that was apparently too much to ask.
The steps that I had to go through to make that happen... I give up!

Yeah, I know, you people must be thinking, "Dude, it's so easy, just do this and this! Didn't you get that?"
For the record, I'm not stupid, but I refuse to stick to something that's making me spend, oh, more than 30 minutes to figure out - when there is someone else who offers a much easier interface.

Thank you for the wonderful 2 years of blogging experience, Blogspot. I have met so many nice friends here. Miss me should you not. I'm only a click away at my new domain.



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A big weekend...

...full of children. JA!

I had a 4 day weekend and the entire time spent with 3 adorable young kiddies.

1. Saturday: 1 whole day with 17 month Ella Bebe (alone, no Mamma!)

2. Sunday: 1 afternoon with 4 year old Little Sid (with Mama)

3. Monday and Tuesday: 2 days with 2.5 year old Kai the Rascal (with Mama)

A wholesome, wholesome weekend. Loads of fun, a lot of tears (the little ones, I shed none, FYI), and laughters in abundance - but entirely physical. Children like to climb all over adults, I just suddenly realize that now. Or use your shirt as their paper towels (never EVER wear white when hanging out with children below the age of 5).

OK, after driving around for 317.6 km on top all those kiddies physical - (kid #3 and his mum and me were having a bit of R&R at Kawaguchiko, admiring Mt. Fuji and stuff), auntie Tari is very very tired now.

Yeah, I'm beat. Will tell more after I revive myself from physical death.


ps: I kept all of them alive. ACHIEVEMENT!!! (especially for kid #1)

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another Everest

So, tomorrow I've committed to do something that I know not.

As a wedding gift to my best-friend and her husband, I volunteered to baby-sit her 17 months old daughter for a weekend. I offered an entire weekend, but then of course I got some jitters and that whole weekend became 1 night and 1 day.
Except that after the kid's ear infection, fever, cold and some adult discussion - it became 1 WHOLE day, from noon till midnight. And that is tomorrow.

I'm having a stage freight.


That kid is one of the most adorable kids in the whole world. Really. She speaks fluent Swedish and understands Tah-Yee's(*) English, and she does roll-over, and walks everywhere and loves the drums and everything. And above all, now every time I swing by she will give me a full kram och puss! I can't get enough of her.
But then, I have never spent more than 3 hours alone with her - hence the stage freight.

Still nervous, I dig around my house and try to find something amusing to bring.
Nope, I got nothing in my house that is 17-month-old-friendly. Nada!

Right. I'm just going to go bring myself, armed with 4 DVDs of Cinderella, Snow White, Toy Story and Tweety Bird. And I'm also going to bring my guitar along. Little Ella always seems to like me a little more whenever I play some musical instrument.

12 hours... surely we're bound to have some fun. Yeah, I can take her to see the ponies and play at the park or something.

Everything is going to be fine... :)

*Apparently my name to her has gone through several evolution, from Ta-Ta, Da-Deeh and finally Tah-Yee

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Reflection: Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr 1 Syawal 1428 H

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
la ilaha illa Allah لا إله إلا الله
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illahi al-hamd ولله الحمد

There went the takbir to mark the arrival of Eid Al-Fitr day, otherwise known as the 1st of Syawal month of 1428 Hijra calendar.

It goes without saying that I am ecstatic with the arrival of one of my favorite days in a year, with a hint of sadness.
Sadness? Yes, because this means the end of my favorite month in a year, Ramadan.


In reflection, this year's Ramadan was ultra special to me. The reason for that was because I was able to start this with my family. I was home for 8 days earlier in September, and thus Dad, myself and my brother could start the fasting together. As well as having the chance to have some traditional iftar get together with some old friends, reliving the spirit of silaturahim (keeping in contact with your friends, families and loved ones).
Coming back to Japan, I tried my best to continue to do this, and was able to host several iftar meals, as well as making my way to visit the Muslim community in Tokyo to attend the tarawih prayers and listen to the sermons.

It is true what they say about Ramadan being a trying month. Spiritually it is believed that things are especially difficult during these 30 days, because that will be when your patience and effort are tested the most. And above all that, you are also physically challenged for not being able to eat or drink etc during daylight.

You see, I don't normally buy these kind of sayings, and try my best to treat everyday just like any other day. Some are good, some are not. But I do notice that several monumental problems and challenges did arise this month. I had to make several difficult adult decisions and deal with what seems like endless problems. How they all seemed to happen within this spiritual 30 days, beats me.
Maybe my attention and senses are especially heightened during this time, maybe I'm consciously trying to make sense of the old sayings, maybe that's why.
As the Muslims would say it... Wallahualam bi shawab.

Eid Al-Fitr 1428 Hijra'

After 30 days of enjoyable hardship, arrived the long awaited Eid Al-Fitr. This year I chose to do it the Turkish way.

The Eid morning prayer was held at the beautiful Turkish mosque in Yoyogi Uehara. The prayer started at 8:30 am. I donned the hijab and made my way there. Leaving my house rather late, I hailed a cab.

"Where can I take you, Madam?" asked the cabbie.

"I want to go to Yoyogi Uehara," said I.

"Ah, today is the end of Ramadan, isn't it? I saw it in the news earlier. I trust you want to go to the beautiful mosque there?"

"Yes, the very one. Thank you! I'm very happy you know what a special day today is!"

I was very pleasantly surprised that my costume for the morning had made a statement and generated a positive recognition from a mere stranger.

Arriving at the mosque, I made my way up to the ladies section.
What joy! It was a full house.
The Turkish mosque, being Tokyo's Islamic center, always attracted Muslims from different countries. Ladies with different complexions, brightly colored head scarves, festive dresses all gathered there.

"Assalammu'alaykum! Happy Eid mubarak!"

One thing I noticed being very different in this mosque when compared to Indonesian Eid prayer... the mosque was quiet. Nobody was chanting the Eid takbir. In Indonesia from the eve of the Eid there will be non-stop takbir chants coming out from all corners of the street, house, television, mosques... everywhere. Such was not the case.

At 8:25 am the Imam started reciting a sura from the Al Qur'an (Koran).
Everybody tuned in and listen. After about 10 minutes he then finished.
Following that the Imam began explaining the procedure of the Eid prayer that he was about to start leading and began with the procession.

After the prayer finished, the Imam began his Eid Al-Fitr sermon. He went up to the mimbar (a pulpit in a mosque) and gave his sermon. He first did it in Japanese. It was pretty cool to be able to have a peek at the Imam doing it from the second floor (where the ladies area is located). As a female Muslim, you don't get to see that done very often in big mosques because usually the ladies area is located very far back.
The essence of the sermon was about keeping good relationship with your family and loved ones, neighbors, friends, everybody and (basically) peace on earth. And that you should do good things to everyone that you know, Muslims and not.
He then did it again in Turkish and finally in English. After the sermon was finished we continued with (finally) chanting the takbir... and called it a morning.

A very special evening

After an eventful morning at the mosque, I walked back to my house (about 30 minutes on foot) and trying to conspire a strategy on how I was going to handle the Eid open house later in the day.
For starters, it just hit me that morning that nearly everyone were planning to come over for dinner. That meant that I was looking at 20-22 people coming all at once from 7 pm. Oh my.
My apartment is minniscule by many standards, and I honestly don't think I have enough space for everyone. And also... I had only started a third of the cooking to feed that many mouths.

I could so easily freak out...
But I didn't.
Instead I picked up the phone and rang my parents. After all, it's the tradition to do so, calling up all of my family members up and wish them happy Eid.

Having done so, the clock struck 12:30 pm.
Oh my gosh, I REALLY had to start cooking.
After 3 hours of labor, I finally finished everything that I was set out to cook:

Opor ayam (chicken white curry)
Sambal goreng ati (chicken liver and potato chili)
Daging saus (mum's special beef dish recipe - my brother's favorite)
Acar mentimun (cucumber relish)
Lontong (rice dumplings)
Gado-gado (Indonesian boiled salad)
**Kerupuk udang and emping melinjo udang manis (shrimp crackers)

The guests started arriving from 5:30 pm. From Lika (my high school classmate), not long after that Mamma Miffy and Ella Bebe turned up. And then Brother J came with the very delicious shrimp crackers (**) that I requested him to bring. From then on, pretty much everyone showed up at the door almost all at once. At one point that evening there was a moment where I had 18 people spread around all available corners in my house. Everybody talking, laughing, eating, drinking.

I remembered taking a few moments here and there from my corner in the kitchen, observing everyone... and I felt so much joy and warmth creeping into my heart. Even now, thinking about last night, it brought the biggest smile to my face.
These people are my family here, in my home faraway from home. And they were all there, in my little home.

This was a very wholesome Ramadan and a very special Eid Al-Fitr.
The special evening alone is a reason enough for me to always be thankful for the good life I've been blessed with.

Thank you very much, Everyone, for making it so special.

And once again... Happy Eid mubarak!!!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Diving, anyone?

I was blogwalking here earlier and I'm thinking now that I should try out diving sometime.

Don't know why I never thought about doing that before.

I've done snorkeling a great amount, but never diving.

Thanks for the inspiration, Leon.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Aglio, olio e peperoncino a la Taiko Tari

After a long hard day at work (starting from 8:30 am), last night I came home late at 10:30 pm.

Famished and tired, I had about 30 minutes with the remnant of my energy to eat something and sleep and do everything all over again from 3 am.
I opened my fridge: nothing in there. I opened my kitchen cabinet - a lot of uncooked materials. There was virtually nothing but chips and lentils and canned goods that, frankly when you're as tired as I was last night, looked very unappetizing.

Then my eyes stumbled across some dried red chili pepper that my Japanese mum sent over earlier in the week, along with some dried bay leaves that our Niigata neighbor naturally dried from the big bushy bay tree in their backyard.
Then I thought... hey, I should make that pasta dish that is very simple, yet tastes very good. I went online trying to find a recipe for this pasta dish, but I couldn't remember what that dish was called.

I searched and searched. I bloody hell could NOT find it.

My tummy rumbled loudly. Yeah, I didn't eat all day because of Ramadan, except for the 2 pieces of chocolate at iftar, and now it's asking for some help.

So, I gave up Google and Cooks.com and started pulling out some pots and pans. You know what, let's just be creative here.

This is what I came up with:

Red pepper, garlic, olive oil and pasta recipe a la Taiko Tari


spaghetti, however much you want to eat in one sitting
garlic, 2 big cloves, crushed or chopped
dried red pepper, 2 - slice thinly
dried bay leaves, 3 leaves
sea salt, to taste (about 1 tsp)
soy sauce, 1 tbsp
freshly grated parmesan cheese
SPAM oven roasted turkey, half a can
extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp

How to cook:

1. Slice SPAM oven roasted turkey, flash fry it with butter in a wok
2. At the same time, cook the pasta according to the instruction in your package, al dente. Drain and put aside
3. Heat the olive oil in the wok where the turkey was fried in #1, put in the garlic and cook until the garlic turned golden brown
4. Put in the sliced dried red pepper, cook until you smell pepper and your eyes watery
5. Put in the bay leaves, cook until you can smell the bay leaves fragrant
6. Toss in the cooked pasta in #2 and mix well, along with the sea salt and soy sauce, and sauté lightly
7. Put in a plate, sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese on top
8. Serve together with the turkey burger
9. Eat it
10. Make appreciation sound... yummm!

This dish is so simple and tasted so good. Now reflecting to my choice of ingredients, if you have access to non SPAM turkey burger, I would strongly suggest you use that instead, but otherwise this do just fine. Or if you want to make chicken burgers, or any fish or grill (go with white meat or seafood, not red meat); they would make a fine companion to the pasta.

And thanks to Rie, I now know that this pasta dish has a name... it is Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino!!! Google away, or you can make do with my revolutionary recipe. I use bay leaves and soy sauce - and no other people have done so in the past.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

A new kitchen favorite

Last night I made a new discovery of a wonderful product: French Press Coffee and Tea Maker.

I don't know how I have lived without one for so long. This thing is freakin' amazing. So easy to make good coffee and tea with this. All you have to do is firstly put in the coffee or tea in, and then pour the boiling hot water in, let it sit for a few minutes and then press it down, slowly. Voilà!
No electricity required. Especially great with tea, because you get to squeeze all the leaves out that way.
Well OK, I've got the Italian stovetop espresso maker that has served me great espresso all these years, but seriously the French Press Coffee and Tea Maker is so convenient to use - that I am now nominating it as one of my kitchen's best appliance.

What is it with the French and their kitchen appliances? All the great ones are indeed French made: Le Creuset pots and pans, French Press Coffee & Tea Maker...

I 'heart' my new French Press Coffee & Tea Maker. Mais oui!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sinful not to share! (Recipe of the week: Daging Bola)

(**ACHTUNG! For those who are fasting, beware there is a food picture below. Avert your eyes nearing the cooking instruction.)

Last weekend I had a bit of a cooking spree to celebrate the arrival of Ramadan and the changing of the seasons. And basically I just wanted to cook, and lots of food for that matter, too, so I invited loads of people over.

For the iftar meal on Sunday, I knew that at least 3 young children were coming, so I had troubles deciding what to make.
My thought then went back to 2 foods that I remember loving the most growing up.

One is corn soup with quail eggs (lots of veggies: carrots, mushroom, corn, onion sprigs). This is the 'soul' food that mum always made whenever one of us was sick, to make us feel all better with the colorful presentation and nutritious contents.
This soup I always make whenever I feel homesick or when I'm really sick altogether. Always works!

The other one that I thought of was Javanese meatballs, or as we literally call it: Daging Bola. Different mothers have different versions, but I think my mum's version is by far the best.

The following is the recipe that mum gave me over the phone 90 minutes before my guests arrived:

Daging Bola a la Taiko Tari's Mamma

some ground beef (about 250 gr)
pearl onion/shallot (about 5 cloves, if not available, substitute with onion, obviously not 5, but about 2 tbsp for the meat, 2 tbsp for the soup afterwards)
garlic (about 3 cloves for the meat, 2 cloves for the soup afterwards)
salt (to taste)
vegetable oil (about 2 tbsp)
1 whole fresh tomato
ground corriander (1 tsp)
kecap manis (to taste, approximately 3 tbsp)
beef broth (5 cups)

How to make:

1. Season beef with ground pearl onion, garlic and salt and then ball the ground beef, size depends on however you wish, but for this one I like them to be large, I have big thumbs, so about 2/3 of the thumb is the diameter)

2. Boil the balled beef until the meat is cooked. Set aside the water used for boiling the meat for the broth

3. Ground together some pearl onion, garlic, coriander, and salt, stir fry it in the vegetable oil together with some coarsely chopped tomato

5. Put in the boiled balled beef stir fry together with the spices

6. Add the beef broth to the mix, bring everything to a boil, put in the kecap manis*. I like to add a half cube of beef consome to the mix just to ensure perfection in taste.

6. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.

*Unlike other recipes, for this you REALLY need to have the kecap manis. This is one of the dish where this particular sauce cannot be substituted. If your Asian shop doesn't have this, you can try to make it yourself. Here's a recipe where you can try to make this sauce.

The food was a HOOT! The children couldn't get enough of it.

Try it. It's so easy to make and it tastes heavenly.

Oh crap, now I miss my Mamma.



I am reading this book at the moment. And a passage really got my mind going:

Then Plank spoke. 'The reason why there's no Plank in the lists is not because there's no Plank - there is - but because Plank is not spelled Plank. That is why.'

Von Igelfeld looked puzzled.

This was another English idiosyncrasy. How many ways were there of spelling Plank? Planc? Planque?

Plank appeared to be enjoying the guests' confusion. 'You may be aware', he said, 'that there are various English surnames which are spelled and pronounced in quite different ways. One of the best-known examples is Featherstonehaugh, which is pronounced Fanshawe. Then there is Cholmondeley, which is simply pronounced Chumley, and of course anybody called Beauchamps is usually Beecham.'

Von Igelfeld nodded.'I have noticed that,' he said. 'There was a Professor Chumley at a conference once and he pointed out that the spelling of his name was rather different. That would not happen in Germany.'

'No,' said Plank. 'I gather that German is spelled as you pronounce it. Curious, but there we are.'

'So how do you spell Plank?' asked Matthew Gurewitsch.

'Haughland,' said Plank.

Von Igelfeld could not conceal his astonishment. 'Haughland?'

'Indeed,' said Haughland (voce, Plank). 'It's an old family from the eastern fens somewhere. Virtually in the water.'

'But your humour remained dry,' observed Matthew Gurewitsch.

Ha! I am mind-boggled, to say the least.

Made me wonder how many transformations that the English language had to go through to reach the stature that it is now. As it is presently, I found pronouncing English words an endless guessing game.

Mind-boggling. Really.


Monday, October 01, 2007

For the record...

...I love my Antonio Sanchez guitar. Really, I do.

But today I came to the painful realization that what Teacher O was saying was right. Antonio Sanchez can no longer help me.

OK, I admit it, Teacher O knows his stuff when it comes to guitars. He said it 3 months ago, Teacher M said it today, and I also felt it myself since 2 weeks ago.

Now the question is what make, which style, and what strength. The sky is the limit now.

Do I want "Romantic" Spanish?

Do I want "Baroque" German?

Do I want rosewood, cedar, or mahogany?

How much am I willing to pay?

Frankly, money is the other issue now, these things ain't cheap. In fact the closest affordable kin to Antonio Sanchez costs 8 times more than 'him'.

AAAArrrrrggghhhh. I wish I was rich.

I'm going to get a cup of cocoa and strum this misery away with Antonio Sanchez.

Baby, you and I will have to make do for a while now.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

And the snake came by...

Here's something funny from Erwin.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good things happen to those who are patient

In many unusual ways, my life seems to be falling into places this month. So many things happened in so little time.

It seems like a lot of things that I have been waiting for (some for years, some for weeks, some for days, some for eternity, some for hours) are fruiting themselves.

Professionally and personally.

In this reflective Ramadan, I am grateful for the many chance that I have to, well, ponder about things.

And witnessing that all the hardships are finally paying off gave me the euphoric feeling of contentment.


As well as that one phone call I made to the Turkish mosque yesterday, and I discovered that they started Ramadan on September 13 and will have the festive Eid Al-Fitr on October 12. My anxiety (for missing out the morning Eid prayer because I will have to work on October 13-14 weekend) had been banished with that one phone call. All is confirmed, this year I'm doing Ramadan and the Eid the Turkish way.

Hello, Fellow Celebrants, please come to my hut for the festive Eid celebration on October 12! Anyone is welcome, from 3 pm onwards.

And for this, my boss has already approved the day off, too!

As Simon and Garfunkel said it

I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slow down, you move too fast...

This past four days I've been listening to this one album. Simon and Garfunkel's work really is timeless. Very conducive for a lot of deep thinking.

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da...Feelin' Groovy.

Hello lamp-post,
What cha knowin'?
I've come to watch your flowers growin'.
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' doo-doo,
Feelin' groovy.

I've got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.

Yes, I'm feeling groovy!

Also on another note, a fond farewell to the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti. You will be sorely missed.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

I made my mother laugh...

... by telling her about the new plant collection in my apartment.

She couldn't understand why anyone would want to display red chillies as a display ornament. To her chillies belong in the grounds, or in cooking.

Never mind to her that her 2nd daughter has got the most un-green thumb in the entire universe (remember the dying rosemary bushes?).

For her to hear that I am picking chillies from my display and using it for cooking was the funniest thing she's heard this year.

Glad to have made you laugh, Mama!

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