Den cafe 田喫茶店

Sep 30, 2010

This is a story about my landlord and his landlady. You must be thinking, whoever writes about landlords? Well, they are special existence to me...

Our landlord and the landlady live on the ground floor of our apartment. They are in their early 80s. They had renovated the ground floor into a small cafe.

The interior of the Den's cafe

There was a tiny bedroom as their private space but the rest of the space was accessible to the clients, including the living room, bathroom and the toilet. They don't need the earnings from the cafe. They own the whole apartment building, a total of 12 compartments . They can lead a luxury life if they want to. Their children own big houses, staying just 15 steps away from the apartment. Their lunches and dinners were all prepared by the in laws and grandchildren. They can pretty much live without having to do anything.

But they chose not to.

They opened the cafe 35 years ago. The landlady single-handedly managed the cafe. The landlord who was a teacher later joined the wife after he retired. The cafe was not big. It was just a small cafe with 5 seats on the counter and on the other side, 2 tables with 8 chairs.

The simple counter with only 5 seats

The landlady's hobby is art. Her customers are mostly art lovers too. Sometimes we can see some art exhibition, with drawings and paintings hung on the wall. She volunteerly helped amateur artists by giving them a chance to exhibit the paintings in their cafe. She is always an angel...

My ice coffee...drained

Drawings by an artist with Multiple sclerosis

Recalling back, I first met them 12 years ago. At that time, I was still an undergraduate student, desperately looking for a new apartment to move in to. Since their apartment was just 5 minutes away from the university and main hospitals, I decided to take it. Then when I came back to Japan to further study in 2006, this time with my family, naturally we had opted to stay in this apartment again. One thing we have really enjoyed is the coffee. We always get free coffee whenever we visit them. Every time I went to pay the rent, the landlady would serve me hot coffee. With exception to summer season when she would serve me chilled ones. The coffee was freshly brewed and it tasted really good. They have their own original blends and people have been coming for the same taste always.

The landlady and me were quite close. She even had a few of my photos kept in the drawer. I was surprised to see that the photos of me taken 12 years ago were well kept. She was really a sweetheart.

My photos taken 12 years ago which were still in good condition

The landlord on the other hand was always quiet. Not a person with many words but he had a kind face that my son loved. Sya even called him 'Ojiichan', which means grandfather in Japanese. To my son, he has three grandparents. One live downstairs of this apartment and the other two in Malaysia. How lucky can he be?

The landlord was diagnosed to have Parkinson disease more than 10 years ago. His symptoms were mild and never escalated like what we see in severe disease like in Mohamad Ali, the famous boxer. The landlord had tremors which were only noticed by people close to him. Yeah...he was lucky that his symptoms were mild.

However last spring, he had contracted severe pneumonia which he finally succumbed to in July. He passed away without pain, peacefully with a smiling face, according to the landlady.
Then came the main question, what would happen to Den cafe. When we talked about Den cafe, it's always about the couple. It's impossible to imagine Den cafe without the image of the landlord. Furthermore, now that she's old and fragile, it would be stressful for her to handle it alone.

After one week of landlord's passing, I visited the landlady. She looked very thin and tired. I asked her how she was doing. She said, 'I am good...'.Which to me, was not true. She was trying to make me feel better. She did not want to show her sadness to me. She kept telling me that he didn't suffer much and that he must have left this world without regrets. She didn't discuss about her feelings. I suppose she's going through the first stage of grieving, which is, denial. I let her talked and lent her a listening ear. It must have been tough for her, after more than 50 years together.

In the middle of our conversation, she suddenly stood up, went to her drawer and looked for something. She then passed it to me. It was a picture.

Landlady: 'Do you have this picture?'
Me: 'No...I don't. Oh, it's really nostalgic...'
(it was a picture of me and the landlord, taken in the cafe 12 years ago)
Landlady: 'That's yours now.'
Me: 'Oh no...I can't have this. This is your memory of him.'
Landlady: 'I don't need that to remind me of him dear. He would want you to have that picture. I am sure...' She had tears in her eyes.
Me: 'Oh...thank you...' I had tears in my eyes too.

Then my son, Sya who saw us crying said, 'Mommy, why crying? Ojiichan is in heaven. We should not be sad...'. That innocent remark triggered more tears in us. She and I then hugged each other for a while.

Picture of late landlord and me taken 12 years ago

She then said, 'It's fated that he had to leave first. But I am not that young either. It won't be long til it's time for me to follow his footsteps. But I am determined to continue this cafe. It's the only reason for me to stay alive now. The memories of him live forever, in this cafe.' I really felt for her. The sorrow was raw. The words really showed how much she must have missed him. No words could describe her big loss. It must have been a massive shock for her. I sincerely hope she would be strong enough and recover from this misery.

Den cafe will be around for quite a while, it seems. I will be the regular customer from now on, to ensure she would be capable of continuing not only her passion, but also the memory of her late husband.

Landlady and Sya when he's shy

Landlady in her favorite rocking chair

View from the apartment, facing the hospital where the landlord passed away

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live" by Norman Cousins

~The end~

My loving keitai (mobile phone)

Sep 29, 2010

Can we ever live without a mobile phone nowadays?

Well, we were challenged with that issue recently.

Both my hubby and I have mobile phones. Not yet iphone 4G but still, we both love our mobiles. We call each other regarding tiny tiny things like, ' Dah makan?', 'Dah sampai rumah?', 'Dah masak?', 'Bila nak balik?' and etc. Yeah, I admit they are very unimportant matters. But then again, who will not take the advantage of calling, instead of sending sms when one can have the access to call the family members within Japan, for free 24 hours a day, by just paying monthly fee of ¥1780 per person? (under the same mobile company that our case, we use Softbank).

Last Friday evening at 6pm, just like any other day, my hubby called me from a playground's car park, which is not far from home. He had just finished his routine soccer practice with Sya. 'Ayang bila nak balik? Nak saya ambik tak?' was the question. I was very busy so I asked him to go back and I would come back on my own. It's just a five-minute ride from University anyway.

And that was the last time I heard from hubby's mobile.

When I came back, just before midnight, I asked him where his mobile was because I had been calling to inform that I would be back in 10 minutes time but there was no answer (again, very unimportant matter). He said, 'Ah...must have left it in the car.' (By the way, our car park was an open parking space, we rent it on monthly basis). I told him to get it because we pretty much depend on mobile's alarm to wake up in the morning. With only one mobile's alarm, I was not confident we were able to wake up early on cold mornings like this.

He went to the car park to get his mobile. It must have been quite a while because when he came back, I was half asleep. I mumbled and asked him whether he had got it. He said, 'Tak, tak jumpa, takde dalam kereta la yang'. Apparently he had looked in the car, went to the playground, looked around both the car parks but still couldn't find it. So, that totally woke me up. I used my mobile and called his phone in case it was placed at home but to no avail, we couldn't locate it. That night, we both slept at 4 am trying to find and figure out where the mobile could have been left. We were hoping that the mobile would just appear the next day. You know, like when you desperately looking for something, it just wasn't there. And when you don't need it, it just happily shows its appearance in front of your nose. Yeah, we were hoping something like that would happen. But unfortunately, that didn't happen.

My hubby had to work on Saturday, without his mobile. So, there was no call during his lunch. There was no phone call telling me when he'll be back for dinner. Yeah, yeah...I sort of missed that moment when you can just pick up the phone and talk about something unimportant. So feeling bored, while my hubby was at work, I decided to spend the whole day doing spring cleaning. Hoping in distress that the mobile would somehow appear. However, the phone was still nowhere to be found.

My face was not this sweet while spring cleaning

Then, I decided to call the mobile company and requested them to search the location of hubby's mobile. We can do that nowadays provided our phone uses GPS system. To cut the story short, they managed to tell by estimation where the phone was. She could only locate the city and section of the phone's location. It was impossible to locate the exact address, she said. I was not surprised when they told me about the location. It was SK8, the same section as our home address and we were advised to look within 1.5km from the center of the section, which, pretty much means that the phone could have been dropped at both the playground or our apartment car parks. Or another possibility was, that the mobile could have been there always, inside our home! So...was the info helpful? Yes and no. Yes, I was happy to know that the phone was still there and not taken away by some strangers...that we can rest assure. No, if the phone was within the come I still couldn't find it? Musykil, musykil.

Saturday was spent with me feeling miserable. Hubby kept his cool. Though he pretty much felt bad for not being careful and lost the phone. And yeah, I have to admit that I never thought losing a phone would mean so much to me. To discover that our lives were quite dependent on a small gadget like that, was even more depressing! Really depressing.

Depressing cat

That evening, I decided to make a police report at the section SK8 police station.

A typical Japanese police station

Hahaha...Can you believe that? I actually went to the police station and filed a report of the missing mobile. The policeman was grinning all the way when I described about the phone and trying to recall back how my hubby could have lost it. His first impression was, 'You sure it's not at home?'. My answer was, 'Yes, I did massive spring cleaning yesterday but I still couldn't find it'. 'Ok, if we ever found it, we would call your mobile and inform you. If not, you can use this copy of report and get a new mobile instantly without having to be questioned much by the shop attendant.', the policeman smiled at me. I thanked him and left.

Sunday, no calls from the police station. I didn't feel so bad because we spent time lazied at home, did some house chores and went shopping together. But in actual fact, deep inside, I was slowly losing hope.

But this is life. Life has unexpected turns. God has his own way of doing things. On Monday, after finished doing my routines, I had received a phone call from an unknown number. I was a split second late before the caller hung up. I quickly called back.

'Moshi moshi, this is N.S police station. Can I help you?', a woman answered.
'Moshi moshi, I received a phone call from this number....', I stated.
'Oh...really, do you have any idea why we could have called you?' (smart policewoman I thought)
'Yeah, I filed a police report regarding a lost mobile phone on Saturday, the report no. is...xxxx'
'Oh...alright, regarding the phone, we have found it.'
'Really? Thank you, thank you. When can I go and get it?'
'Any time at all. Don't forget to bring your ID, ok.'
'Thank you. Will be there in 15 minutes.'

The mobile was found! Wahahaha...I was so happy! We went to the police station and identified the phone and got it back. Before I left the police station, I managed to ask the policewoman who handed me the phone, 'May I know where the phone was found?', just to free myself from all these puzzle. She said, ' Sure, it was found at a parking lot in SK8'.

My favorite singer in police costume

So the mystery was solved. My hubby dropped the phone at the car park near our apartment, while trying to carry many bags from Sya's nursery (it's a routine where every end of the week, the parents are required to bring back the kid's mattress and blanket from the nursery). Some saintly man must have noticed the mobile that evening after my hubby left. Since my hubby realized it late and looked for it at midnight, the mobile must have already been noticed and picked up my that stranger. Thank you so much stranger. We owe you! May God repay you with more good things in your life.

I was so happy. My hubby lagilah...he was estatic. Well, it must have been miserable to see my long face every day. Sorry sayang, we women tend to take things too seriously sometimes and that itself would occupy the whole mind. Unlike men who can just cut and block themselves from all sorts of problems. What to do...this is 'woman nature'. You married one then you will have to deal with one, right? *wink*

But I believe, my persistency definitely paid off. And persistence is one essential criteria in doing research too. Have I got it all? hahaha...I don't know. But I know what my prof would say, he would say...'you still have a long way to go, girl!'

~The end~

Flowers in my mind

Sep 20, 2010

Flower is still a girl's best friend. I sincerely believe...

When I was in Kobe last month, my friends and I accidentally came across a small museum. There was a temporary exhibition of preserved flowers titled 'Flower shower'. It was an unplanned visit but we spent a few hours admiring those beautiful flowers which looked so real. Imagine being surrounded by all these beautiful flowers. You would think you were fairies in those fairy tales.

I love the green color roses

Don't the petals look real? The texture was exactly like real flowers too!

Methods of making preserved flowers

Flashes of unforgettable memories kept appearing in my head while I was looking and admiring the beautiful flowers. It left me smiling away. Looking at other people, I realized I was not the only one who had a smile hanging on the face. Everyone else did too. Some bouquets really resembled flowers I received from my hubby when we were 'bercinta'. At that time, he was in Japan and I was in Malacca. He had ordered flowers online from Malaysian florist shops. Then had them sent to my door on special occasions, together with my favorite chocolates or teddy bears. At odd times when we quarreled, words of apology were written in a simple card, together with beautiful flowers too.

Then it was my wedding, we were so busy with preparation that I had forgotten to water my bouquet of bridal flowers which was handed to me one day prior to the wedding day. It was supposed to look fabulous with white lily and roses.

My bridal flowers was designed and meant to look like this...

On the wedding day, the white lilies were half dead and browned! It looked terrible! I almost cried. However, I managed to compose myself and told myself what's done was done...I had to see what I could do with the flowers. I quickly came up with my own version of wedding flowers. was really havoc!

My not so successful handmade bridal bouquet

And of course, talking about the wedding, I wouldn't forget that kimono which I changed into during the reception. It was a super quick changing session done by my Japanese friend, who was really an expert in wearing kimonos.

With Japanese friends, lecturers and professors

Ahh...looking back at these photos, I have to admit I didn't like the outcome of the make-up done by my make-up artist who was supposed to be a famous one, who had done make-up for Era Fazira before. I preferred the make-up artist named abang Halim which had done the make-up on my 'nikah' and Terengganu's reception.

Nikah photo

Those were the days.

Now, on and off, my husband would still send me beautiful flowers. He still gives me flowers on my birthdays, mother's days and our anniversaries. Though no more luxury flowers like what he used to give ( as I would nag on the expensive fault!), a simple bouquet of red roses means a thousand would still steal my heart. And as I said, a flower is still a girl's best friend.

Patriotic me

Sep 16, 2010

Do you know there is a public holiday called Malaysia day in Malaysia? Malaysia Day is held on September 16 every year, starting year 2010 to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced that last year and said the day would involve activities that would foster the 1Malaysia spirit. I am not going to talk much about the history of Malaysia federation cause you can wiki it. I am going to talk about something which made me mad today.

I had joined facebook 2 years ago. It's where my family, friends and I get to keep in touch. If you are a member of facebook you probably know how it works. If someone writes something on their status, it would show on your wall. So today, while friends were wishing one another Happy Malaysia day, there was one particular person in my friend list who really spoiled my mood by writing something very negative about our country, Malaysia. I was very angry because he was a Malaysian, happened to be my 2 years junior and studied in Japan with Malaysian government scholarship for 4 years! How could you write something bad about your own country? Everything he wrote in his status was negative. Giving poeple the impression that Malaysia is a terrible place to live in. He might have written it in a political view, still, the words he used was very 'biadap'. Well, I didn't comment on his status. Instead, I wrote on my status (so that it would appear on his wall):

'Some Malaysians complained about their own country as if they're not indebted to this country in any possible way. For them who had received government scholarship, before you shout out how bad this country is, one question, have you served the country in return? Just a reminder that you had used 'rakyat' tax for your study. The country may not be perfect, I believe patriotic spirit should be there. Selamat Hari Malaysia!'

I hope he got my message and would stop making drastic remarks anymore...which, my hubby thought was impossible.

I love my country, Malaysia. I know there are many flaws and there is always room for improvement. That doesn't stop me from loving my home country. I just wish more Malaysians would show patriotism in them. At least they owe their country that much!


Post Eid syndrome

Sep 13, 2010's the 4th day of Syawal. With heavy legs and stomach I marched to the University today. My stomach is still filled with yesterday's open house food. 2-3 open house a day is really bad for the health I must say. With lots of cookies still piled up at home, we definitely desperately in need of exercise. Otherwise, I can't imagine what we would look like in a week time.

While some of us are still in Raya mood, there is one particular news in Malaysia that really caught my attention. Yes, the multimillionaire, Datuk S's murder case. It is almost confirmed that she was brutally murdered, burned and her ash was scattered in the Panchau river along with 3 other victims who accompanied her for the business deal in Banting. It is rumored that the main person who planned this kidnap/murder is also an influential young Datuk who happens to be a lawyer. It was said to be a well planned murder. Gosh, I had goose bumps when I first read about the news.

The victim Datuk was decent enough and didn't go alone, but went with three other men to close the deal. Little did she know that the other party was so evil and had prepared and hired more people to brutally killed them. Whoever these people are, I hope they would be punished accordingly. I just cannot imagine that human being can be so cruel. To what extent is money the root of all evil? You tell me...

May God bless the souls.

Salam Aidilfitri

Sep 10, 2010

Entry on the Eid morning. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!
Here wishing all Muslims friends around the world Eid Mubarak. Let's celebrate this day with a true spirit, be able to forgive and forget any differences or past animosities that may have occured during the past years. To my non muslim friends, happy holidays and enjoy the open house. Lot's of food, food and more food. How I envy you guys!

30th Ramadhan

Sep 9, 2010

The final day of Ramadhan. I was supposed to join some other friends for iftar but unfortunately, my boss gave me a heavy task this morning in return for a day off tomorrow. No pain no gain...that's my boss. He passed me a few tasks the moment he said yes to my leave application. But I am grateful that he granted my wish. Thank you boss.

Sharing with you our final iftar menu for this Ramadhan. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, maaf zahir dan batin!

Pumpkin soup

Kuih makmur

Blueberry shake