another obscure review: Complete Persian

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be in Geelong to visit family. While there, my sister took me to the local library, which is quite modern, like it was recently renovated. I was rather impressed, but, as I wandered over to the language section, I still didn’t have high hopes of finding anything in Persian. Amazingly, though, they did have one!

The book in question was Teach Yourself: Complete Persian (Modern Persian/Farsi) by Narguess Farzad. I’m calling this an obscure review because it is unlikely to have any relevance/interest to anyone I know, but I’m writing this anyway because I feel compelled to, and, who knows, maybe there’s someone out there looking for reviews of Persian textbooks… Continue reading

a revision of goals and reading

[This post is a continuation from my post last week about reading goals.]

Going from reading to study, I’ve decided to commit at least another two years to my self-guided Persian/Farsi studies. I think I will need the rest of this year to finish working my way through the text book I bought, and then another year to be able to read The Little Prince and other texts that my friend has lent me. I’m not sure that all of this will enable me to hold an actual conversation with someone, but I hope I can reach a level of proficiency that I’m happy with and that my friend approves of.

And while on the topic of study, I suppose I ought to announce some sort of commitment to my CPD (continuing professional development). Last year, I attained the requisite 40 CPD points reasonably early on in the year, and very much neglected it for the rest of the year in favour of Persian and other things. Now I’m at a point where I feel like my knowledge is not nearly as polished as it used to be, and I realise I need to make this a regular thing rather than a “cram as many CPD activities into the shortest amount of time” thing. This will probably mean regular reading of Pharmacy journals, and maybe watching online lectures when I can. Continue reading

learning English by learning Persian

At the end of July, when I was waiting at Cairns Airport for my flight back home, I had the idea to translate my “rationalising my commute” poem thing into Persian. It was going to be my next project/assignment to help prod me along with my studies.

This idea came to me because I was re-reading it for some reason (I occasionally go back and re-read things I wrote months or years ago), and it occurred to me that I probably knew a lot of the words in Persian. I jotted down some of these, which wasn’t really that much, but it was enough to give me the feeling that this was an achievable goal.  Continue reading

a story of a little fox

Things seem to have gotten rather busy lately. I feel like I’m not as active in the blogosphere as I used to be, but there is a good reason for this!

I have written a story.

Well, it’s only a short story — four pages to be exact, though it is handwritten and double-spaced too — but it has taken a very long time to write. I went through four drafts in total. (The number four seems to be a thing here. Too bad the story only has three characters.)

Continue reading

learning how to learn languages

Every so often – maybe when I’m feeling like I need a bit of inspiration, or I’m just feeling bored and listless – I watch TED Talks. Usually these are TEDx Talks but they’re more or less the same thing. Usually I watch talks about psychology and human relationships, or about behaviour and the way the brain works; but a couple of weeks ago, YouTube was suggesting some talks about learning languages.

As you may or may not know, I’m currently in the process of learning Persian (AKA Farsi) and also kind of re-learning Mandarin, so when I saw videos like “How to learn any language easily” pop up, I figured “why not”. I used to be quite wary of these talks because I thought they would just tell me to spend three months in whatever country speaks the language I’m learning, and I’d miraculously master it (obviously I can’t just pack up and move to Iran or China for three months); but I had spare time that day, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to watch one talk, and see if it offered anything worthwhile.  Continue reading

for the love of food (and my mum)

When conversation turns to cooking, I sometimes joke to my friends that I learnt all I know about cooking from watching food-related TV shows. All through school and university, as much as I was an outdoors kid, and as much as I was a diligent student, I watched so much TV. As a teenager, I proudly told people that I just completed my homework during ad breaks, such was my dedication to various programs.

But, of course, it’s not true. At least, it’s not all true. Yes, celebrity chefs and food gurus taught me how to make béchamel sauce, how to cook crepes, and which spices work best together; but they can’t take all the credit for my culinary know-how. As is probably the case for a lot of people, I learnt most of what I know about the fundamentals of cooking from my mum.

Of course, this was always obvious to me. Who else would I learn from? Other relatives, yes, and certain friends, but I grew up watching her cook, eating her food, and asking her questions. But I think it’s only since moving out (about half a year ago), and having to cook more often, that I’ve become so much more aware of the things I learnt from her. And, as with any recurrent thought, I feel a need to write about this in order to release it from the mental roundabout in the centre of my mind.


Things I have learnt from my mum about food and cooking:

Don’t be afraid of hot surfaces, but know when not to touch something directly: As a kid, I used to be afraid of touching saucepan lids (and the steam released when opening them), and of taking hot bowls/containers out of the microwave. Of course, these days, those things don’t faze me. Sometimes I accidentally touch hot pans, and just shrug it off.

How to make the most of scraps and left-overs AKA it’s ok to throw things out, but if it can be salvaged, it will be salvaged: This might also explain my interest in being experimental with food combinations. Sure, the popular trend toward unusual food pairings probably has something to do with it, but my mum’s thinking is more practical for everyday eating.

You don’t always need salt: As far as I remember, my mum was always quite reserved with her use of salt, preferring other seasonings instead. Sometimes eating and tasting something as it is, unseasoned, is good too.

It is possible to clean as you cook: This can be important for staying organised and ensuring you don’t run out of bench space (or spoons).

How to make a simple sauce that will work with almost any stir fry: soy sauce, fish sauce, corn flour; maybe oyster sauce and other things if you have them.

Kitchen scissors are a necessity: This might seem like an odd thing for some people, but I’ve learnt that a good pair of kitchen scissors can often substitute a knife and chopping board (which is particularly good for people like me who don’t like washing up).

The best (and safest) way to cut tomatoes, carrots, onions, capsicum, etc, etc: all to do with making sure the knife doesn’t slip, and you don’t accidentally cut your fingers. She also taught me efficient ways to dice, julienne, and roughly chop vegetables. I was helping with mise en place before I even knew what that was (TV taught me that phrase).

How to segment apples/pears/whatever and peel their skin using a small knife: Somehow, apples and pears seem to taste better if someone has cut them up for you (or if you cut them up yourself)

Good meals don’t have to be fancy: Of all the things that my mum cooks, among my favourite dishes are a simple broccoli and mushroom stir fry, a tofu and mince dish, and marinated/stewed pork belly (although the pork belly dish always seemed kind of complex to me…)

Allow yourself enough time to prepare a dish i.e. know when to start cooking: There’s a good reason why some days she started preparing lunch (or dinner) while we were just finishing breakfast. (When I was really young, this confused me, but it made more sense as I got older.)

How to fix a cake batter that’s a bit too dry or a bit too wet: She baked a lot (still does) and often “winged it” with recipes, so she sometimes needed to adjust the consistency of the batter at the end, just before putting it in the tin and into the oven. She also taught me that I don’t always have to follow the sugar and butter measurements stated in other people’s recipes, as they may be too sweet or too greasy. (I tend not to compromise the butter/oil too much, but sugar I’ll often reduce.)


There’s undoubtedly a lot more that I learnt from her – maybe a lot that I’ve learnt subconsciously and don’t even realise – but I think this is a decent enough list for now. (The list is undoubtedly still growing too…)

Sure, my mum taught me a lot of general life skills/lessons too, but they (whoever they are) say that food is life (and food is love), and I don’t know how long I’d survive on my own if I hadn’t learnt these things from her.