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/

 

Fantasy Film Festival – Berlin 2014

Fantasy Film Fest Berlin 2014

Fantasy Film Fest Berlin 2014

More good movies! I think this is one of my favorite film festivals because it’s fun! (Yes I do think bloody zombies are funny)

I originally planned only to see four movies, but ended up seeing twelve fourteen(!) movies. (Yes I’m a movie addict – my hobbies keep me sane!)

This year’s selection was pretty good in my opinion. There’s some fresh humor, good scares, and strange ideas. I’m trying to separate my impressions based on the type of movies I’ve seen.

First up is what stood up to me most. Can you guess? No, it’s not how scary or bloody, but…

Music

Yes, music! It’s so prominent on some of the films that it sticks in my head. There’s the obvious one, like

Metalhead, a film from Iceland about a sister who tries to cope with her brother’s tragic death. From the title, it’s quite obvious the music genre is metal. And it’s Iceland, with a little bit of church thrown into it. Not really recommending this one except for the music. The rest is just too cliched.

Wrong Cops, is simply brilliantly fun! If you love Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber (or other sort of crazy utopia), then by all means, do yourself a favor and go see this movie. I’m not a fan of electronic music, but this one made it work so well. Plus you’d want to see Marilyn Manson in this one.

Life After Beth, the closing movie in FFF. It’s a dark comedy zombie movie with a little romance thrown into it (don’t worry it’s nothing like Warm Bodies). Here the music works as a different element, just because the zombies react well to smooth jazz… !

Haunted House

Of course, right? No horror festival should be without one. There’s some good scary ones this year too, I’m actually a wimp when it comes to haunted scares.

The Babadook, sounds like a children movie based on a children book and a character called Babadook. No, surely not. So please don’t take your children to see this one. It’s in the same line as Conjuring with some nice psychological twists.

Oculus, a story about two siblings who tried to resolve their twisted past by destroying the mirror that somehow created the illusions in their head. Quite interesting premise but somehow fell a little flat in the end.

Housebound, is a smart take on the haunted house theme. Comes with a sarcastic crazy daughter who ia housebound from her criminal behaviour. It’s a New Zealand movie and now I’m starting to think if there’s a New Zealand type of humor that I really like? Totally recommended, and this movie also happens to win the Fresh Blood award (audience award) at the FFF Berlin.

Fantasy World

Give and take, all movies are fantasies anyways, but these movies just take it to a different level of fantasy.

Patema Inverted, a story of two worlds with polar gravity. What happens when these two people from these two worlds meet? Could you actually fall to the sky? It’s an anime movie that’s somehow sweet but also well made.

Get Shorty, true, it’s a compilation of shorts, but I’m just going to mention two I’m very impressed with this year… Orbit Ever After, which is a story of love in the orbiting small spaceships, with a rather rogue and apocalyptic feel to it. Sequence, what if you’re in everyone’s super scary nightmare last night?

Mockumentaries

What We Do in the Shadows. I’ve seen this at the Berlinale, and I love it!! The vampire genre is already supersaturated and I didn’t think anyone could come up with a nice take on it… until this one. It’s that good and funny!

Others

Couldn’t really find good categories for the movies here. I wanted to say Asians, but that’s just where it comes from and not really reflects what it’s about.

Go Goa Gone, zombies meet Bollywood. It’s just funny to see how different culture “react” to this. Has its fun moments for sure!

Man on High Heels, tries to deal with a deeper meaning than just an action movie. He’s a superpower cop guy who always wanted to have a gender reassignment surgery. Interesting drama, especially when set in a culture and environment where this is highly frowned upon.

13 Sins, how far would you go when you are desperate for money? It’s a remake from a Thai movie (which, from IMDB seemed to be a comedy – I really want to see it!). Anyhow, this has some good stuff going, although I don’t really like the ending. Also, Daniel Stamm, the director, was present at the screening. Didn’t know that he’s German (the movie was USA/English)

These two movies, I don’t like them at all, but I’m mentioning it just for my own reference.

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, it’s one of those overly pretentious movies in my book. There are plenty of “metaphors” going on in this movie (yes, I’m putting it on quote consciously and on purpose). It’s one of the longest movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s only 100 minutes.

Wer, it tries to be a new take on werewolves but failed. The only thing I’d remember about this movie is that it’s set in Lyon. Other than that, it’s one of the movies who wanted to be smart about tackling werewolves but ended up doing every cliches in the book.

Recommendations

What really the stands out for me: Housebound, What We Did in the Shadows, Life After Beth, and Wrong Cops. Go see them when you have the chance!!

 

(Will Be) Speaking at Ignite Berlin 4

I am going to talk about one of my passion. One of which I chose not to pursue professionally as trying to make a living out of it, but instead it has served as a path for me to pursue one of my lifelong dream. This was the main idea behind my current startup project.

I will be talking about makeup. Because, yes I am passionate about it (ex: I have more than 20 lipstick!), and yes, it’s okay to be passionate about things that polishes beauty. It is also in our nature to appreciate and like beautiful things :).

You’d have to wait until I give the talk to find out what exactly I am talking about. I promise I will make this interesting to guys as well as gals.

The event will be at:

Supermarkt, Brunnenstrasse 64, 13355 Berlin, Germany.
Tuesday, 1 Oct 2013, 7pm.
igniteberlin.com

If you didn’t know what Ignite is, here’s the definition from igniteBerlin.com website:

Ignite is a geek event in over 100 cities worldwide. At the events, Ignite presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes stage time.

I hope to see you there!