Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mangosteen, rocks, and trying new things

Who doesn’t enjoy catching up with friends? The distance and time apart means they have had a chance to learn things from different circle of friends and environment. When we meet again, we always have something new and interesting to share. When E. came into town, I was introduced to so many new things it made me wonder how often these knowledge sharing sessions happen and whether we all need to take up travelling around the world so all of our friends benefit from our knowledge.

It started out with fried mantou (Chinese pastry) with condensed milk [link with a pic here]. Both items are familiar to me but the combo wasn’t. If you’re curious about this item, take a look at Sunway’s menu next time you’re in Flushing [link to yelp]. I also recommend pairing vanilla ice cream with hong kong style coffee tea. Take spoonful of the coffee and pour it onto the ice cream. Awesome.

Along with all the sweets, E. told me wonderful stories of his rock-climbing experiences. His tales opened me to a new world of adventures out there, although it didn’t prompt me to take action. This must be one of these things that people enjoy hearing and observing, but never participating, such as parachuting and eating weird things.

At work on the same day, a colleague of mine shared a few words of wisdom from a leadership conference. The key message was to raise daughters with confidence and allowing them to take risks in order to set them up for future success as leaders. While I originally declined the invitation to go rock climbing (too far, I’m too tired, I don’t know how to do it, etc, etc), I realized that I really ought to use this as an opportunity to explore something new and to challenge myself (fyi I have no upper body strength and not sure if I ever managed to do even one pull-up in my life.

I convinced myself to show up at Brooklyn Boulder after work and tried out both bouldering (no harness) and top roping (with harness and robes and a very high course). The key to this activity is keeping my arms/fingers active and using my legs to pull myself up. Physically preparing myself is difficult, mentally I also have to be persistent and to have good amount of will-power and patience. At first I could not finish a course due to muscle exhaustion and my inability to follow the colored stickers/leads. Eventually toward the end of our session, I told myself there is no giving up and that I’m going to finish the course. Apparently this mental pep-talk did the job and I even began to enjoy the challenge. Will my success lead me to future courses/practice sessions? probably. Will it inspire me to climb actual rocks? I’m not sure I’m that hardcore yet. 


After rock climbing, we ended up getting a slice of NY pizza and saying hello to E.’s grandmother, who is in her 80s and in great health. I liked chatting with people who are wiser and more experienced with life. I also tried a mangosteen for the first time, which has a sour and sweet taste that is not quite like anything else. E. said he got it out of nostalgia for southeast Asia.

Another friend of mine said the same thing about dragonfruit. It’s interesting how food leaves lasting impressions like nothing else.

I also learned there are people out there who eat baozi (steamed buns) with sauce just like I would with dumplings. Call me conservative or very particular, I just know what I like.

After giving E. some of my own recommendations for Sasquatch festival, I realize at least in the realm of music, I am still quite active with new bands and new sounds. I hope to continue learning and trying new things in the journey ahead.

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