Tuesday, July 30, 2013

chef off...

(Via www.theage.com.au)

Travel wanker alert… BK and I recently(ish) returned from a short stint in Bali. I was a little anxious about going because I knew (being a conference and all) that I would have to make small talk for a certain amount of the time and I can only make small talk for so long before feeling claustrophobic and need to be on my own for a bit. Small talk aside, I was very excited about the trip because a) it was a 5 star and all expenses paid b) it was Bali, and I was born for island holidays and most importantly, c)  I would not have to cook for 6 days.

One of the cool things about the trip is that the conference organisers made sure that all details were a secret – all very cloak and dagger. All we knew was that there were a few soirees and two mornings of planned conference type activities with the spouses doing a special “spouse activity” on one of these mornings.  Of course, this led to speculation about what the organisers had up their sleeves. I was hoping that it didn’t involve things like obstacle courses on the beach or – horror of horrors – a Sexy Spouse Competition.  I jokingly commented to one of the other spouses that in actual fact, the only thing worse than a Sexy Spouse Competition would be if we were to take part in some kind of cooking event.

You can imagine my alarm then, when they announced that we were to spend the morning with none other than Adam Liaw, winner of MasterChef Australia 2010. (Truth is, up till then I’d never heard of him but I’m getting slightly name droppy here.) I got all sweaty under the armpits when I imagined that he might ask each one of us to volunteer the dish we most like to cook, given that my culinary skills extend mostly to fish fingers. For that reason, I headed to the furthest point from his demo table.

Now don’t get me wrong, as appalled as I was at having to spend a morning in paradise cooking, I was very interested in what Adam had to say. After all, I like to think that he’s more than earned his cooking stripes and I was banking on him imparting a lot of “short cuts to brilliant cooking”. Not only was he a mine of information but he genuinely came across as a really lovely man. (Though quite honestly, any man that can cook is lovely, innit?)

No sooner had we sat down when two of the women opposite me started WHISPERING. No, not in subtle, muted tones. In LOUD WHISPER tones which, as you know, is practically the same as shouting.  At first I was forgiving.  Perhaps they were very excited about Adam Liaw and were sharing their excitement. Perhaps they were SO excited that they needed to pee and were clarifying the direction of the WC.

As the LOUD WHISPERING progressed, I tried to zone it out. You know, be the bigger Bali cook, so to speak. But when the LOUD WHISPERING got sharper and more animated I could no longer stand it. To make matters worse, it was now highly punctuated with a nasally whine.

By now the entire table was privy to the fact that both of these LOUD WHISPERERS had had argie-bargies with their spouses. (Surely it’s illegal to fight in a paradise? Surely you can put it off any kind of arguments until real life resumes?) We came to the conclusion that the LOUD WHISPERERS had mislaid their sense of decorum in transit, somewhere between the countries of Self-Absorbedoon and F#%&ing-Rudonia.

I attempted some deep, meditative breathing. It didn’t work and as I could truly no longer zone out their chatter, I thought I’d give a discreet EHEM. Nope, no response.  Not even a blip on their radar. By now, all the other women at the table were wriggling in their chairs, pained expressions on their faces, willing the other two with all their might to SHUUUUT THE FUUUUCK UUUUP.

Finally, one of the other (non-whispering) women at our table declared, “I think the bar’s open, perhaps we should have some wine”. I wanted to kiss her. Unaccustomed as I am to drinking before noon, I saw no other way forward and promptly downed one Bintang and three gin and tonics. Sadly, I don’t remember how to make Malaysian Chicken Satay’s but I do remember that Adam Liaw is lovely and that you should never talk during a cooking demo.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the voice...

(via www.datingdaredevil.com)

As I was leaving yoga class the other day, I got chatting to one of the other class members. After a while, I realised that I was using a “voice” on her, specifically, a “gushy-uber-friendly” voice. This got me thinking about all the different types of voices we use in different circumstances.

As the youngest of four children, many of my mannerisms and speech habits have been infused with those of my older siblings – so much so that when all four of us are together I suffer a bit of an identity crisis.

When I’m with my oldest sister I use my slightly theatrical voice, because that is how she is. When I’m with my other older sister, I switch and use my philosophical voice, because that’s how she is. When I’m with both of them at the same time I have to keep switching between a theatrical and philosophical voice. Sometimes, but not always, one of them will make it easier and switch to the other one’s voice so that we’re all using the same voice. Finally, when I’m with my brother I use my “dude-all-about-the-bro” voice, because he’s a dude and a bro.  He’s also a headmaster though so sometimes our voices get a bit headmasterish. Unlike his, however, my “headmaster” voice isn’t very convincing.

I good voice to start with is the “telephone voice”. I know for a fact that EVERYBODY has a “telephone” voice. Take my Dad’s telephone voice, for instance. It’s very loud.  Though I’ve tried to explain that the very point of the device is so that one doesn’t, in fact, have to shout, he insists on using his LOUD voice. As you can imagine, this gets worse when he’s talking on a cell phone because as you know cell phones are less connected than landlines so you have to be LOUDER. In fact, the LOUD telephone voice is common to lots of men. Sometimes it is accompanied by what I have affectionately named “the-tea-pot-arm”.  I’m not sure what purpose the elbow in the air serves but I suspect it might be some kind of make-shift antennae. You know, so you don't have to shout quite so loud.

Naturally, the type of’” telephone” voice used depends on whom you’re calling and why.  If it’s a professional call, I like to sound as if I single handedly run the JSE. It’s a very “all-about-business” voice. However, if I’m phoning someone I need help from (like Telkom or M-Web), I’ll use a cross between my “business” voice and my “Being-so-nice-to-you-you-have-to-help-me” voice. This is not to be confused with a “begging” voice, which is mostly used on traffic cops. My middle older sister is very good at the “Being-so-nice-to-you-you-have-to-help-me” voice and no matter how annoyed she gets with the person on the other end, she manages to hold her “angry voice” back until after the call has ended and then all kinds of hellish potty mouth language breaks out.

Another common voice is the “nice-to-meet-you” voice.  As it’s name implies, it is used most prolifically on first meetings. It’s a complicated voice to perfect - you have to project equal amounts of confidence and humility. You also have to sound genuine, which is difficult because you really don’t know if it IS nice to meet someone until you get to know them a little better.

Sometimes, people get confused and use an inappropriate voice for the occasion. This brings us to the “know-it-all” voice.  This often sneaks in when people meant to use their “nice-to-meet-you” voice but their confidence has overridden their humility. However, it has to be said that this voice is definitely adopted by most people at some point and by some people all of the time.  It’s generally accompanied by body language such as: wagging fingers, leaning forward, leaning back or hands on hips, or all of the aforementioned. The paradox with this voice is that it’s normally used at exactly the moment when the speaker doesn’t, in fact, “know-it-all”. As proof of this, I can’ honestly state that I have often used it can confirm that I know almost nothing about anything.

Then there’s the “I’m-not-a-complainer” voice.  This is normally saved up for health professionals but can be used anywhere, not just in the doctor’s rooms.  It’s a mix between a “slightly-sick” voice (you know, the one you use to phone into the office when you’re on “sick” leave) and a “sigh-that’s-just-the-way-life-is” voice. Sometimes, people are so good at this voice that you don’t realise until after they’ve gone that they’ve actually been having ONE BIG, FAT WHINGE.

The “hipster” voice is mostly used by hipsters on hipsters, on young people by young people, or on young people by old hipsters. The latter is the most funny because the old person thinks that if they use their hipster voice on young people, the young people will mistake them for being young. For optimal results, this voice goes hand in hand with appropriate young-person slang (words like “sick”, "random" and “awkies”). I try out this voice a lot and I have to say that it hardly ever works.

Last but not least, there’s voice that’s my pet hate. It’s the “fun-girl” voice and I think we all know someone who uses it. It’s generally used by a certain kind of girl who is not fun at all. She will mostly use it around blokes and the subtext is: “I’m so fun, I’m like one of the boys but so sexy that I’m irresistible”. This voice is heavily encoded with innuendos and will make use of suggestive phrases such as, “Oh dear, I forgot to put on underwear today” or “Do you think this dress is too see-through?”. Strictly speaking, all women should have outgrown this voice in their early twenties but blow me down if I don’t see full on “mature” women trying to use it. No matter how “fun” they may make it seem, don’t use this voice. Ever.