Thursday, 24 April 2008

This Is Heaven

When you live in another country far, far away, touching down back in Malaysia and having roti for breakfast IS Heaven on Earth. Yes, we do get roti back in ol' Blighty, the frozen, rubbery kind, no matter how much coaxing and clamping, it just does not get to the same fluffi-crispi-ness that one finds here at Raju's off Jalan Gasing, PJ. Never mind the price even, but sadly, no luck. Its like eating a croissant outside France, it just doesn't cut it.

You might ask, what has eating roti canai got to do with photography? Well, absolutely nothing ! Except perhaps I used (again) my mobile phone camera to take the above snap. Nothing aesthetic about it I suppose.

I have been sorting out computer stuff over the last few days since I arrived. Now, why is setting up wifi broadband like brain surgery?! Grrr.. but its all working nicely now except the signals are a bit weak around my mother's house. The walls here are solid concrete unlike the ones in the UK, stud partitioning, hence, wifi signals are restricted.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Love is All You Need!

I was looking through my archive of 35mm black & white negatives the other day whilst preparing images for my forthcoming book titled 'MUSEO' (more later) and came across a few shots I took at the Abbey Road Studios wall in NW8, London in 2001.

The Beatles recorded many of their famous tunes here in the 60s and it has sort of a cult status to Beatles fans, especially during anniversaries and commemorative days.
29th November 2001 was the day ex-Beatle George Harrison died, aged 58, and the blog title photograph above show scribblings and writings on the studio walls by his fans from all over the world. It was a poignant day as I remembered, it was cold and wet, and the people that made the effort to be there was already a feat, let alone travelling from all over the globe.

There were little tribute flowers, only several bunches strewn on the pavement and snuggled in between the metal fence posts. It was the wall messages that people came for. To leave their personal message and to read the hundreds others left behind. To leave their little epitaph for the Beatle they loved, just a little 'Thank You for the music' or as the inscription on the yukelele (above) say 'Thanks George for switching us on'.

It wasn't however like the day that Princess Diana died, now that was something totally sublime, as far as national tragedies go.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Road Trip and Lessons Learnt

Recently I was on a week long road trip across France, to the Alps once again. We love to drive to the mountains, and catch some skiing at this time as the days tend to get longer and the temperature starts to climb. After all, it is officially Spring time. How wrong indeed ! It was cold, and snowed for several days, heavily for one and full cloud cover on the other days. Luckily the sun came out towards the latter part of the trip and it was glorious!

I carried two small digicams with me on this trip, my Ricoh GRD II and an older Canon IXUS 800IS which ended up in the bin when I got home. That's another story, perhaps later. Oh yes, and the camera on my mobile phone. Its only a 2 MP camera, but it got the shots below because I had it out whilst driving through Paris (I know you shouldn't be operating a phone whilst on the wheel!) and up in the mountains.

Driving across France for me is a dream. The roads are magnificently smooth and (usually) the traffic is light except coming in and out of Paris. I try to avoid the peak periods i.e. Saturdays when everyone is either going up or coming down the Alps, as it is changeover day. This time we arrived at our destination on a Sunday, it was a breeze. The autoroute stops serve great food, look out for the L'Arche stops, they have particularly tasty menus. By the way, do you how much petrol costs nowadays?! 1.55 Euros per litre! A round trip of 1600 miles back to London worked out to about £150 which isn't bad considering I had 4 other occupants in the car, but the motorway tolls were a killer, another £100 approximately for both ways.

View of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe

I learnt two things from this trip. It was pretty uneventful until the return leg. Firstly, never trust digital cameras. Whatever make or cost. While skiing on the last day, the Canon IXUS decided not to operate anymore. It was fine the morning, fine at lunch time, and that's it. Pressing the OFF button brought on a whirring noise and the lens would not retract. I dreaded it. I had read about the ERROR 14 on certain Canon digicams, but never thought it would happen to mine! Despite removing and replacing the battery numerous times, it just would not retract, and nothing works. Dead, kaput.

Its out of warranty and it will cost more than its worth to fix it, and who says it won't happen again. That's why its in the bin, as I type this.

Secondly, I also learnt that mobile phones can kill your remote key blip for your car. My wife had the key blip in her jacket pocket with her mobile phone and one minute its working and the next, it just could not zap a jackrabbit within a hundred yards. Nothing. The car was locked, and no matter what position and contortions I tried to be in to zap the car open, it just would not respond. We were going to pack the car for the return trip and if I couldn't get the car opened, we were going no where.

Opening the door with the metal key meant that the alarm would go off, and I wasn't a popular bunny that evening! A quick long distance call to Toyota in the UK confirmed my fears. The zapper had indeed stopped zapping. The code had been erased!

On my return, I trawled the internet to find if i can avoid paying Toyota £60 to recode the zapper, someone out there must have a solution. Within 30 minutes, I found it! Eureka! Thank you..thank you..whoever you are that translated the re-coding from a German Toyota manual..I printed it out and followed the instructions to the letter..and..tada..! I now have a working all singing and dancing zapper!

It is quite complicated, the procedure involves opening and closing the drivers down plus inserting the blip in and out of the slot in a certain pre-determined sequence, plus you have to be chewing gum and whistling "I'll be home for Christmas'' at the same time wearing blue it wrongly and you might have a dead car or get ejected into the air like a baddie in a James Bond car.

PS. Anyone wants to know the sequence email me...