What I Talked About When I Talk About Running (Part 2)

Running in Berlin

Running in Berlin Autumn

Around 5.5 years later after I wrote my first post about running here. By now somehow I got a reputation of being a runner, most likely because I realized I kept posting the pictures on facebook. Honestly I feel much like an impostor. So for the sake of being authentic, I’m going to let you know about my struggles and who I am as a runner.

When I started running, I know I said I couldn’t run fast. But deep inside my heart, I still want to be the middle pack runner (like running the marathon without the fear of getting scooped up by the bus), after all, it’s not easy to be the last one to finish. Or to feel like you sucked at the sport you’ve been doing for quite some time. So I would improve, or so I thought. I trained for the half marathon, finished my first, as you can read the pre-half marathon thought here and post half-marathon thought here.

The year after that, I run the half marathon again, training better (or so I thought) and gearing for a better time. Nope. My time was worse than the year before (true, that I ran half of it in pain due to toe pain), but still, I feel like crap. And all throughout 2015, I’ve turned to despise running because it reminded me of how crappy this sport made me feel (the hell with runner’s high, really).

 

My time was just a little under 3 hours for the half marathon. Imagine the elite runner could run 3x half marathon for the speed I need to finish mine. And to put salt to the wound, when I tell this to a “friend”, he actually laughed at me and said that’s such an embarrassing time! I’d love to punch that guy in the face, but at that time, I was just laughing nervously. Gah.

So, tragically, at that point, running makes me feel like a failure. A reminder that maybe I will just never make it, no matter how long I persist. I must be kidding myself if most people who run talked about running the marathon in under 3-4 hours. I can’t even run a 5K under 35 minutes.

Sure, I might be able to do it if I train more. Then again there’s only so much hours in a day, and I’m not prioritizing 1 hour training workout everyday. Also I’m not keen in being a workout group where people are yelling to each other (And happy to know that it’s a normal trait in an introvert).

Finding Peace in Running

Funnily enough I did go back to running this spring. One part because it’s the quickest sport I could do (put on running gear, go out of apartment, run to a park). One part because I seemed to have a masochistic tendency and I like to struggle with my demons. But the most important part is I missed what regular running actually makes me feel: healthier, stronger, and I can eat whatever I want.

 

Not easy.

The demons kept reminding me of how much I sucked. Also facebook doesn’t help because everyone seemed to improve way more easier than I ever could.

Then, I tried to remind myself of why I want to run:

  1. Being able to eat whatever I want

  2. Feel healthy and strong in the body, which helps me handle stress in the mind

  3. Getting some fresh air and looking at the greenery around me (which is why I don’t run on treadmills)

I don’t want to let my speed of running ruins the joy of running for me. So maybe I won’t join any running event anytime soon. Or anything that made me care too much about my speed.

And if you ever feel like I do, I’m just letting you know that you’ve got a friend! If you enjoy it, go for it! It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of your run (well, maybe if you’re an Olympian, but most of us are not anyways).

Here’s the scenery I truly love for autumn in Charlottenburg

Autumn Scene in Schloss Charlottenburg

Autumn Scene in Schloss Charlottenburg

 

Berlinale 2016, Part One: Culinary Cinema

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It’s a wrap!

This year I watched slightly more movies than usual.

  • 2 Culinary Cinemas: Ants on a Shrimp and Wanton Mee,
  • 3 Panoramas: War on Everyone, Goat, Junction 48
  • 3 Berlinale Special Gala: Creepy, A Quiet Passion, Where to Invade Next
  • 3 Competition: Midnight Special, Alone in Berlin, Genius
  • 5 Generation: Ted Sieger’s Molly Monster, ENTE GUT! Maedchen allein zu Haus, Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank, Royahaye Dame Sobh, Born to Dance
  • 1 Generation Short Films.

16 movies, and 6 short films. Phew! It’s going to be too long to write in a single post, so I’m going to divide it into:

  • Part One (This one!): Culinary Cinemas: Ants on a Shrimp & Wanton Mee
  • Part Two: The Suppression Theme
  • Part Three: Generation and other non-depressing movies

Alrighty, let’s get to it!

Culinary Cinema: Ants on a Shrimp

Perhaps we all have a perversion to know how others lead their life. My interest in food is not as a chef.  I’m always curious in the thought process of an artist. Not necessarily for copying or following what they do, but just to candidly see them doing what they do best.

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Talk with the director of Ants on a Shrimp, Maurice Dekkers.

Ants on a Shrimp follows the story of the Noma team in their journey to open a Noma pop-up at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. Anyone who thinks that opening a restaurant or being a chef is an easy job should watch one of these movies about a chef’s life. It’s very much of a lifelong dedication, long hours to achieve food perfection.

The movie opens with the opening day scene at Noma Tokyo. There seemed to be some chaotic things going on and you could see the nervousness going on, even with René Redzepi, the chef of Noma. “But nervousness is good”, he said, “it showed that you cared.”.

The journey goes into a flashback of the crew being sent to Tokyo three months prior to coming up with the 14-course menu. The work is by no means easy. It’s anything but. You see the crew working long hours in a kitchen space three stories underground, pushing themselves to achieve the best dish possible. Yet, despite all that, you could see that they are those crazy people who love their job so much there’s nothing else they would rather do.

You get to understand their thought process and sympathize with their agony to achieve perfection. On how they tried to come up with not just Noma’s signature dishes, but also dishes representing their food journey in the Japanese landscape.

I love the scene where the crew went for a walk through the forest and (carelessly) tried out different bits and pieces of the forest. Even ants :D.

Should you see this movie? Definitely, if you’re interested in Noma. Yes, if you’re interested in an artist / chef thought process.

WARNING: some scenes might not be suitable for vegetarians ;).

Culinary Cinema: Wanton Mee

“Wanton Mee” is a look into the Singaporean hawker food culture. Told from the perspective of a middle-aged food critic, Chun Feng Koh, Wanton Mee walked you through the different food stalls in Singapore, on the (most times) grueling process of how the food is produced.

The movie brings you the ultimate Singaporean food porn, where you see all of those to-die-for mouth-watering street foods, with nowhere to get them in Berlin. (PS: I’ve never been so hungry and so sad after a movie before.)

Evolving around the clash of generations, which seemed to be one of the issues in Singapore, a city of rapid change. You could see the conflict between Chun Feng Koh with his father, about how things were moving slower with his father’s generation. You also have the conflict with the younger generation, who seemed to want things in an even speedier pace.

These thoughts are then brought into how we see the hawker food places. Not the trendiest place to go anymore, yet they produce one of the best food experience you can get in Singapore. The movie pointed out that hawkers seemed to be of a dying breed, due to rising costs of operational costs, and lack of interest of doing such grueling job.

Chun’s journey takes you to the multiple hawker places across Singapore. From a very distinctive way to serve food (Hainanese rice in form of a ball to put the chicken on!), successful story of expansion of the kitchen, fathers who doesn’t really want their children to continue doing the business, fathers who insisted the children does, children who wanted to continue despite, and the business that stayed as sisterhood.

It might not be the best form of docu-feature I’ve seen, but it’s enough to make you want to book a flight to Singapore right away. Once I get my hands on the list of food mentioned in the movie!

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Talk with the director of Wanton Mee, Eric Khoo (the one with the mic) and the main actor, Boon Pin Koh

Should you see this movie? Yes, if you want to see a different food culture in Singapore, where clashes between generations are more prominent. No, if you don’t have some sort of immediate access to those foods mentioned in the movie (kidding!).

Afterthoughts on Culinary Cinema

While I don’t think it’s completely fair to compare both of them, (Wanton Mee is docu-feature rather than a true documentary, but assuming that the food hawker owner/chef work is an actual documentary), I would like to write down my afterthoughts, especially since I saw the movie back to back.

  • Being a chef requires many hours of work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Michelin star chef or a hawker chef. Perhaps the only difference is how much people are willing to pay you for your time.
  • There are different skills on being a chef, and it’s not just making plates look pretty. You tend to take for granted the amount of skills needed to make a “simple” dish like cooking with a charcoal stove.
  • With the hawker culture, it always seemed like they just wanted the secret to stay in the family, and so you basically work until you die or your children take over.
  • With Noma’s concept (and perhaps most restaurant like this), the head chef tends to find the best team and talent. There are a few scenes in Ants on a Shrimp where you could see the nurturing culture of the team. One where they mentioned a recurring staff competition to create the best dish, and, more importantly, having the whole Noma team tasted it and giving them constructive feedback. Another when Rene gave praise to his whole main team, highlighting each one’s capability, that made them special and crucial to the team.  

If you’re curious about the reviews of the other Culinary Cinemas this year and a look into the dinner, go check out my dear friend Yasmina’s blog on the Berlinale Culinary Cinema, here.

 

Lange Nacht der Museen Berlin Summer 2015 – Routes #LNBerlin

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I’m going again to the Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums) in Berlin, summer edition 2015! It’s been a while, and thanks to the generosity of the team, I’ve been invited to go!

It’s always fun to visit the museums at night, imagine visiting the history museums with ancients items at 1am and nobody else was there! ;). Also it’s especially nice in summer (I tried to do it in winter but really it’s just cold at 11pm 😛 ). The tricky part is always picking which museums you’d like to go to!

This year they have a really nice site where you can check out all the links to the museums, routes, events, and even create your own list. Check it out here!

There you’d already find some tips from them and organizing it based on interests etc. Actually, I’ve been to many museums in Berlin so I can offer you some tips based on my own experience:

  1. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time and/or never visited the major museums at the Museum Island, I would totally recommend at least visiting some of the museums there. Going in to the Berliner Dom is also recommended, sometimes they have a nice intro concert there too.
  2. If you’re visiting for longer and you’re a museum geek, then go for a 3-day Museum pass (not part of the Lange Nacht) and instead enjoy the rather out there experience of the Museum night, like the concerts, free tango lessons, and special guided tours.
  3. Don’t underestimate how tired you’ll be by midnight. I remember zombie-ing through a gallery thinking that everything looks the same :-D.
  4. Try to plan out routes where you don’t have to travel so much in between. The public transport is great but most times it gets really crowded!

That being said, if you’re curious about my list, as always it’s a mix between some sort of tech things, art, and history:

The events I’d love to go to:

The full list of my overly-optimistic plan:

http://www.lange-nacht-der-museen.de/en/favorites/565948/

 

A Reminder…

Success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of the seed that you lovingly planted…

Posted by Paulo Coelho on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of the seed that you lovingly planted.

When harvest time arrives, you can say to yourself: ‘I succeeded.’

You succeeded in gaining respect for your work because you did not work only to survive, but to demonstrate your love for others.

You managed to finish what you began, even though you did not foresee all the traps along the way. And when your enthusiasm waned because of the difficulties you encountered, you reached for discipline.

And when discipline seemed about to disappear because you were tired, you used your moments of repose to think about what steps you needed to take in the future.

You were not paralysed by the defeats that are inevitable in the lives of those who take risks. You didn’t sit agonising over what you lost when you had an idea that didn’t work.

You didn’t stop when you experienced moments of glory, because you had not yet reached your goal.

And when you realised that you would have to ask for help, you did not feel humiliated. And when you learned that someone needed help, you showed them all that you had learned, without fearing that you might be revealing secrets or being used by others.

To him who knocks, the door will open.
He who asks will receive.
He who consoles knows that he will be consoled.

(taken from “Manuscript found in Accra”, by Paulo Coelho)

Note: I just need to get reminded of this from time to time…!

Book Review: Immortal at the Edge of the World

Immortal at the Edge of the World, Gene Doucette

Immortal at the Edge of the World, Gene Doucette

Finally! I’ve been looking forward to the final book in the Immortal series by Gene Doucette. You could read my review of the first book, Immortal and Hellenic Immortal. I had an advance copy of the book, courtesy of the lovely people at The Writer’s Coffee Shop, but to be honest I would have gotten it anyways, because I love this series!

Blurb

“What I was currently doing with my time and money . . . didn’t really deserve anyone else’s attention. If I was feeling romantic about it, I’d call it a quest, but all I was really doing was trying to answer a question I’d been ignoring for a thousand years.”

In his very long life, Adam had encountered only one person who seemed to share his longevity: the mysterious red-haired woman. She appeared throughout history, usually from a distance, nearly always vanishing before he could speak to her.

In his last encounter, she actually did vanish—into thin air, right in front of him. The question was how did she do it? To answer, Adam will have to complete a quest he gave up on a thousand years earlier, for an object that may no longer exist.

If he can find it, he might be able to do what the red-haired woman did, and if he can do that, maybe he can find her again and ask her who she is . . . and why she seems to hate him.

“You are being watched. Move your loved ones to safety . . . trust nobody.”

But Adam isn’t the only one who wants the red-haired woman. There are other forces at work, and after a warning from one of the few men he trusts, Adam realizes how much danger everyone is in. To save his friends and finish his quest he may be forced to bankrupt himself, call in every favor he can, and ultimately trade the one thing he’d never been able to give up before: his life.

From the author of Immortal and Hellenic Immortal comes Immortal at the Edge of the World, the breathtaking conclusion to the best-selling trilogy. Will Adam survive?

My Review

First up, I think I need to let you know I haven’t been in the right headspace lately to read a book. It might influence my impressions a little bit, just because it’s currently harder for me in general to finish a book.

On to the book, what I have always loved from this series is Adam’s sense of humor. He is somehow ancient, you could see from his perspective of the world, with plenty of sarcasm, which I suspect helped him (sort of) being sane. I think I said this every single time I reviewed the book, so I’m just reporting happily that it didn’t change. I am going to miss Adam!

This time around, we get to explore a little more of Asian culture, with the introduction of one of Adam’s friend, Hsu, faeries, and the trade world to the Orient. Perhaps it was also because my lack of interest of this topic that made it slightly harder for me to read it, so it does feel slightly lackluster in the middle… BUT I am so glad I do carry on because it picked up and become immensely good in the end. I love the conclusion of the trilogy.

I do think you would need to at least know what’s going on in the previous book to be able to completely enjoy this one. Although it does have a good intro into the recurring characters so you won’t be completely lost… It’s just much more fun to read the first two.

I like how the author weaves the past and the present into this book. I think it made much more sense, especially because it’s all Adam’s point of view, and it’s always amusing to me to see his perspective on the past events. Like what he said about the beginning of Islam… (no, I won’t give you the spoiler, you’d have to read it).

Would I recommend this book? Hell yes, I always recommends all of them. If you like a sarcastic, sometimes half drunk, always real main character who happens to be immortal, then you should read this. The only downside is you probably couldn’t find this easily in a bookstore in Germany. There’s always Amazon though. And kindle edition! I don’t get a cut or anything for this. I just think this is a good book!

 

Notes:

Thank you Cindy at The Writer’s Coffee Shop, who gave me a chance to review this book and participate on the blog tour.