Sunday, 29 June 2008

Ramnish's and Antje's housewarming (29th June 2008)

My god - the weather was really crap today. Wet, windy and so damn cold! Sitting in my living room working on my laptop made me dizzy - I could feel my apartment 'swaying' as the wind blows!! Just what I needed to get me out of the house and head to the swimming pool :)

Around 2pm, I went to pick up Christian, Willy-John and Ken from their respective homes around the city and we all headed over to Ramnish's and Antje's place in Miramar for their afternoon housewarming. They had recently moved to a cosy little townhouse in the suburb and it was still quite bare but hey, no problem - we can sit on the floor! Everyone brought a plate and as usual, we ended up with too many cakes :) That should keep Ramnish and Antje on a sugar high for the rest of the week...hehe...My cake was a recipe mum gave me which I tried for the first time - prune cake. I know guys, the idea of it suggests 'good for digestion' but I thought it was quite a nice cake, no? Perhaps have it last then :P

Ooo, if I didn't have to drive, I DEFINITELY would have drunk more of the Cuba Libre that Christian made, which was a drink made 1 part rum, 2 parts Coke and a dash of lime. It was SO GOOD - I loved it! But no, can't drink anymore. Have to drive :(

It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon spent indoors (yes, out of the cold and wet weather!) with good friends chit-chatting and laughing together. And surprisingly, we didn't dance at all this time round, which was a first!

Another socially packed weekend (27th - 28th June 2008)

Friday, 27th June 2008: After a busy week, it was nice to end the work week with drinks with my colleagues. Only stayed for 1 drink and dashed home in the rain. I was off to a tango show tonight so couldn't hang around too long for drinks. Sheesh, the rain was just relentless! Was drenched by the time I got home!! And you wouldn't believe my luck - the lift in my apartment building was not working - I had to climb 12 flights of stairs to get home!! Please let the lift be working by the time I return home tonight...

Quick shower and change later, I drove back into town and had a superfast sushi dinner at Catch Sushi Bar on Courtenay Place, and by 7.20pm, headed over to the St James Theatre to see Tango Fire. Bumped into Matthew and his female friend (hmm, girlfriend??) who were also there for the show and stopped to chat. Poor Matthew with that sling - he recently had a snowboarding accident and the poor guy looked 'broken'. Hope you get well soon!

I had bought myself a front row ticket in the dress circle (upstairs) for the 2-night only show. Cost me $93.50 for my ticket - expensive! Honestly, I didn't not know what to expect since I was not a tango dancer and would have no clue what's good and what's not. According to the brochures I've seen, Tango Fire is a show by Argentina's hottest tango company, Estampas Portenas. Since I can't go to Argentina, why not bring Argentina to me? And I'm SO glad I did get a ticket for the show despite the cost - it was fantastic!

The show had 2 parts - the first was more acting/theatre while the 2nd half had more acrobatic moves that made some of us hold our breath watching them deliver the moves. The show was of high-energy, with a mix of hot, sexy and steamy dancing, filled with much emotion. The men were donned in smart suits while the women in sexy dresses (and did I mention they had the perkiest butts I've ever seen? Baffles me still how one can get such fine ass!). Hmm, I'm not sure if the wet hair look was meant to add 'steam' to the show but it sure did it for me :) Phew, is it hot in here or what? There was a live band playing in the background and a singer who appeared periodically to sing in those 1920s jazz singer stand-up microphone. Nice :)

I loved the show! Hmm, perhaps I should really consider taking up tango lessons...Now I'm all buzzing with energy to groove on the dancefloor - Salsadrome, here I come!! So when the show ended at 10pm, I headed back to my car to pick up my dance shoes and headed over to the Wellington Performing Arts Centre to join my salsa gang for a night of salsa dancing till midnight. And that was 2 hours straight of dancing but I enjoyed every minute of it!

Saturday, 28th June 2008: Was up at 8.30am (despite my late night out) and by 10.30am, I was out of the house. It was another gorgeous day today and I had to make the most of it so packed up my day pack and headed to Karori Wildlife Sanctuary for a walk.

Just minutes from downtown Wellington, the sanctuary is home to many of New Zealand's rarest birds, reptiles and insects living freely in their natural environment. There are many tracks you can walk in the sanctuary. I only did a loop to the Dam and back with lots of stops along the way for photos as I only had 2 hours before heading back to my office to wrap up some work. Such a nice day to enjoy the outdoors, exploring bushtracks and discovering unique attractions such as their 19th century goldmine, weta hotels, taking a ride on their electric boat and just enjoying my escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Lucky me, it only cost $2 today to visit the place (normally $10). Yay!

The goldmine visit was interesting. I was fortunate enough to be in the area for a free tour with one of the volunteer guide. The lovely old lady gave me a torchlight and safety helmet to put on prior to my entry into the mine. You could still visit the mine without the guide/tour but to get further inside to see the cave wetas, you need a guide to unlock the gate inside the tunnel. Not for the entomophobics (people who fear insects or bugs) because these cave wetas are free-roaming and you can find them crawling on the cave walls! Furthermore, the wetas are able to leap up to a distance of 3 metres - be prepared!

The other highlight of my visit to the sanctuary today was taking a ride on their electric boat. The boat runs every half an hour from two pick-up/drop-off points at the Lower Lake. Cost $2 today (not sure what is the normal price) and it was a peaceful and scenic 10-minute ride. We even spotted a pair of shags at the nest! These medium-large birds build their nest on tree branches with twigs - I'm amazed the fragile nest can withstand our windy weather!

It was really wonderful to find such a special haven hidden right in urban Wellington. I have to return another day to cover the other walks! Photos taken today:

At 4pm, I went to Southern Cross Bar & Restaurant to see Brazealand's 2nd gig. I enjoyed the first so decided to come back and see what their Festa Junina event was about. Turns out, Festa Junina is a Brazilian celebration held at the beginning of winter which coincides with the corn harvest. Many of my Brazilian friends were dressed up like country bumpkins (pigtails, cowboy hat, boots, scarf at neck - think farmer/cowboy costume) - oh, I should have dressed up to join in the fun and taken my camera along! This time around, only forro (type of Brazilian folk music) was played. That worked for me since I dance forro :)

Some of my salsa friends were there and we danced lazy salsa, bad salsa dancing form that looks just like forro :P It must be quite funny for other people to see me and Ken dance forro together in the packed dancefloor - the only 2 Asians dancing a non-Asian dance! Hehehe...

Caught up with a few friends I've not seen for sometime. Was in the mums and bubs corner chatting with Anouk. She was there with her Amaya and the little angel now has a new smiley face - she would give you a Cheshire cat smile with squinty eyes. Adorable! Ooo, and let's not forget Chico, Rafael's son, who has those dreamy 'come hither' eyes. And he's even blinged up like his dad :P

Left the bar around 6pm, went home to fix myself something for dinner and headed back out again after a shower and change of clothes to pick up Rosel in Seatoun. Rosel had invited me to join her and friends at a Chilean event organised by INCAL Casa Latina Wellington in Newtown Community and Cultural Centre this evening. It was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Salvador Allende, a former president of Chile - a celebration of his life and achievements.

The event started with empanadas and Chilean wine, followed by guest speakers and performance by band, Los Andes. The night ended with a documentary film titled Allende. It was an interesting way to end my night though after watching the documentary, I felt somewhat sad (it showed Allende's presidency until his death). Still, it was something different that I've not done before - there's always a first time! Thanks Rosel for inviting me! Did catch up with a few other friends too from my other social circles who were also there.

Yawn, this has been a very long day...was home in bed by midnight after I sent Rosel home. Wasn't up for another late night out....

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Speed dating at Southern Cross Bar (26th June 2008)

Remember sometime back I went to a singles only event? Well, well, guess what else I found that's happening in Wellington...SPEED DATING! Ah-ha, don't you even think it - no, I'm not on the prowl for a man but I am curious what speed dating is all about (plus I see no harm in getting to know a few more people in Wellington) so Kalwant and I signed ourselves up for a speed dating event at Southern Cross Bar & Restaurant organised by Numbers Speed Dating.

So how does it all work, you ask? First, you need to sign up from the website where you will be emailed a page long questionnaire to complete. Upon returning the questionnaire to the organiser, you will then be informed of the next speed dating event and receive an invite to attend. The choice is yours to accept the invite or not.

At 6.30pm, I met Kalwant outside Southern Cross. We were the first people to turn up so after paying our $30 fee (yes, there's a fee to pay if you attend the event) and given our numbers (I was #1 and her #2) as well as stickers for our names, we headed to the bar to get a drink. Two of us were scanning around the perimetre to see who were the likely attendees to the event. far no cute guy within view...continue scanning...

The event officially started at 7pm. 10 chics and 10 lads where placed in pairs scattered around the private function room - some had the small dining tables and chairs, some on comfy couches. Each pair had 5 minutes of 'air-time' with one another and when the time was up, each of us would note on our given sheets whether girl/guy #whatever was a yes/no. The whole point of the exercise of putting a yes/no was so that at the end of the night, if a pair both had a 'yes', the organiser would then send you the respective emails so they can get in touch, if they wanted to.

What I thought was really cool was that the boys had to move when the time was up, making the girls felt as if we had the upper-hand. I felt sorry for some of the guys I spoke with - it was as if I was interviewing them as they took their seat and I went "so, tell me about yourself". There was a break in between for us to grab a drink before continuing on with the next 5 introductions.

There was this guy who was trying to get on Kalwant's good side - unfortunately Kalwant and I were hanging out at the bar together during the interval so the poor guy had to buy both of us a drink. Hehe...thanks Kalwant :P Psst, he seems like quite a nice guy (hint, hint)...

I wonder what the other people in the bar were thinking seeing a bunch of us 20-30 somethings in a private event...Interesting? Curious? Disgust? Desperation??? I didn't care - I was just out having some fun :)

Back into the room and 5 more guys to 'interview'. As the introductions continued on, I started to forget what I've said to whom - obviously hearing myself repeating my introductions way too many times to the point I've lost track. Some of the guys I met were probably younger than I was, and I'm not surprised some have never dated in their life. A majority of them were somewhat geeky in terms of their attire and talked way too much about themselves or how they excel at work etc. to a point I started to wonder if they were interested in getting to know someone new or really just themselves. I met one who has never travelled on a plane i.e. never travelled, EVER. Oh dear...A few of them were somewhat shy and hardly talked so I had to keep prompting them to say something. They may think I'm bossy or extroverted but hey, sitting there for 5 minutes in silence can get very uncomfortable, you know. On the up side, there were some who were able to hold an interesting conversation during the whole 5 minutes making the time seem to pass by too quickly. There were several lookable blokes around but I'm not one who makes a judgment call on the basis of looks - there's more to that when getting to know someone.

So at the end of the night, I only had 2 guys of the 10 that I was interested to know more of but only one of them had a 'yes' for me so my $30 and night out got me only 1 contact. Kalwant had 6! It was not a numbers game of who got more - we just had different choices. What happens after this is still a huge question mark - will the guys get in touch? I have no clue but we'll just have to wait and see.

I'm not sure how many of us were seriously there to look for a potential partner but all in all, it was an interesting experience well worth giving it a try. Would have been better if we all got a drink at the start as part of the $30 cost. It was a safe and neutral environment to get to know random strangers and who knows, you may actually end up finding your partner in the next event! You'll never know...

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Food, oh glorious food! (20th - 21st June 2008)

Friday, 20th June 2008: The usual Friday work drinks have migrated from Kitty O'Shea's over to the The Malthouse on Courtenay Place, an upmarket bar that boasts the largest range of beers in town. With over 100 different brands and types of beer to choose from, one is really spoilt for choice! But I'm not sure the change of location works well with the Friday drinking crew as they are mostly Guinness drinkers (did you know the boys even set up a social club in the office called B.I.G.A.S. - some Guinness appreciation club???).

Caught up with Kalwant and her flatmates, Kelly and Geoff for drinks and we headed over to One Red Dog on Blair Street for dinner. It had been a long time since I stepped into this restaurant but nothing much has changed. Still serving an assortment of pizzas (which I'm not a huge fan of) and pasta. Can see why I hardly come here...It was a nice dinner and an opportunity to get to know Kelly and Geoff a bit better. Kalwant sure has lovely flatmates :)

After dinner, the gang headed over to Hummingbird Cafe & Bar back on Courtenay Place (my first time here) where Kalwant was meeting up with a male friend. Ah-hem, male friend??? Geoff, Kelly and I teased Kalwant profusely about her about-to-turn-up 'male friend'. Though I have to say, if it was a date, the 3 of us should get going. Don't want to intrude :)

Ok, Hummingbird is definitely not the place to hang out for us young ones. The songs played here were from my grandparent's/parent's time and so were the majority of people around. It's funny how Wellington bars have different themes - hip, 80's, trance, Irish etc. Everything here spells one thing - OLD. We laughed and rolled our eyes at some of the songs, even did old-school dance moves (think Grease) for the hell of it! I didn't stay out late with the others and headed home around 9.30pm.

Saturday, 21st June 2008: Spent the early afternoon at home baking cakes with Sonja. We made 2 banana cakes and 1 chocolate rum cake. Yum! Photo of the choc rum cake:

Dropped Sonja home around 4pm and some cake to Kalwant and Hew - enjoy! Hey, no driving after having my cake guys - I could smell the strong rum when baking it :)
Around 9pm, I went to pick up Chris and we headed over to Jo's for her potluck party. I haven't caught up with Jo and friends for a long time and since Chris was new in town, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce him to a few more people. Hmm, though I'm a bit concerned that he'll be 'eaten alive' by the Brazilian women who seem to swoon at any new guy in the social circle. Chris doesn't have to know this, yet...hehe...

Jo made pastel as usual - yum! Must get the recipe from her next time. I flitted around the house, chatting with friends I've not seen for awhile and occasionally checking up on Chris to see if he was alright. He seemed to be enjoying himself with new friends (ah, good!).

Ricardo, Ricardo...everytime I see this Brazilian man, he would be joking about his lack of a love life, but more so about the 'muffin' issue (I've heard this upteen times). I don't know if this is a Brazilian cultural thing or what where women need to be 'perfect', trim and fit; 'muffin' refers to the excess bulge/fat 'hanging' out of pants or jeans and to Ricardo, 'muffin' is a real turn-off. And to his dismay, most women he has seen in town to date have 'the muffin'. "See, look, touch me - I have NO MUFFIN, NO MUFFIN AT ALL!" he'll often say and then grab my hand so I would feel his sides. Ok, ok, I know you have no 'muffin', sweetie - I get it! But what can I do? Any no 'muffin' ladies out there who's interested in a 40-year-old single, no 'muffin', no white hair (yes, the 'other' thing that Ricardo raves on) Brazilian man? Let me know...

South Americans are natural charmers and flirts. In the midst of chatting with people from the front to the back of the house, I was caught in a discussion of 'who's better?' between a new Argentinian bloke in town, Adrian, and Ricardo. It was really amusing to see both puffing out their chest, boasting to me which nationality makes a better lover (Argentina vs Brazil). Hmm, better not stand in between them for too long - they are now pulling me in opposite directions, one on each of my side, pretending to swoon me with their romantic charms and telling the other to lay off their hands of their 'gf'. Boys, boys - enough! You boys would have to work harder than this to get a 'date' with me :P

Bumped into Helbert at the party and we danced samba gafieira to one song in Jo's small living room but that didn't stop Helbert pulling out all the acrobatic moves on me. Yikes! Chris was surprised to see us dance to such moves - I think he thought we only danced for fun when we told him about it. And I probably surprised some of the other Brazilians too. Doubt they even thought I could dance. Hee, do not judge the book by its cover...

I'm glad Chris had a great time, even bumping into people he knew towards the end of the night. I eventually told him about the 'eaten alive' story to which he laughed when I said he was 'fresh meat'. :) Dropped off the boys Chris, Ricardo and his flatmate, Asko, and returned home around 1 am. What a night!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Latin Dance Night @ Shooters (14th June 2008)

Tonight was another one of those dance parties organised by Salsa Therapy at Shooters Bar. Some of us regular salsa dancers were there as usual - why not? It's the only salsa event that dancers can go for no entry fee these days! Definitely works with my budget :)

Ramnish and I did a stint of gafieira to a bossa nova song but it felt somewhat odd. Odd in the sense that everyone, I mean EVERYONE, left the dance floor all of a sudden when the music played, and we somewhat struggled through the song - me, not confident enough dancing gafieira on heels and Ramnish had forgotten moves he learnt previously (he's currently taking a break from our weekly practice). Hee, embarassing! Have to pratise with heels and get the others to join us on the dancefloor!

It was quite a small crowd tonight but I had lots of fun dances, including one with Carlos (Lily's hubby), who caught me yawning on the lounge chair and walked across the dancefloor to wake me up with a dance. Haha, very funny, Carlos - it was lovely to dance with you :) Photos taken tonight:

Ken, Naz and Rodney doing a threesome bachata
Here's me and Kanaka grooving

Annie and Rodney

Ramnish, Lily (and baby!) and Ken

Another photo 'secretly' snapped by Ken, this time of me and Thomas dancing

Just the girls - Lily, Antje and Nicola

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Potluck dinner and Bogan party (7th June 2008)

Ken had organised for a potluck dinner at his flat this evening for his friends and a few of us from the salsa bunch. Everyone brought a dish (I brought along a home-made cake, of course!) but we somehow ended up with 5 cakes :) Oh dear, some of us will be getting a sugar high tonight. It was nice to be indoors - the weather was just wet and wild outside! Good company, good variety of food and some salsa dancing on Ken's super-slippery wooden floor in the living room...hehe.... Photo of us chilling out at Ken's:

Would have loved to stick around longer but I had agreed to check out a Bogan dress-up party with Kalwant around 9pm. The term 'bogan' is an Australasian slang, usually pejorative, for a person who is, or is perceived to be, of a lower-class background. I'm not exactly sure how to dress up like one so just worn something casual; some of the guests at the party came dressed in what seemed to be a cross of a goth and punk rockstar. Hmm...

It was somewhat odd for me to be in a non-salsa/Latin event. I guess I've been out of the 'normal' social scene for several years that I felt somewhat out of place being there, as if I didn't know how to 'normally' socialise? Couldn't quite explain it - bizarre. But it was good to do something different from the norm plus allows me to meet new people :) Photos of us at the party:

Wellington sure is small - bumped into another friend of mine, Matthew, at the party. Haha, he kept assuring me that ceroc dancers aren't normally dressed up like that - turns out most of the guests at the party were ceroc dancers (so is Matt). Hey, you guys show us a dance or two!