I am losing count of the number of days that KL has been under RMO/MCO (Restricted Movement Order/Movement Control Order). As one wise guy cracked, the only official days of the week now are Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.
One good thing about the lockdown is how I’ve managed to unearth some old pics buried somewhere in my archives, such as these pics that I took in April 2011 but never published before.
This is the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland. I did not exactly plan to visit it that day as I had my sights on the United Nations (UN). Unfortunately, the UN tour apparently was very strict in the sense that. once you’re in, you can’t go out until the entire tour is over. I had a flight to catch and I calculated that I would not have enough time for the tour AND catching my flight. And that was how I ended up walking a few blocks away into this museum.
When I was in high school, I was part of what was called the Red Cross Youth. We learned how to administer first aid and were always on standby during school sporting events and such. Of course, we had to learn a bit of the history, namely, the beginnings of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. And I’ve never forgotten Jean-Henri Dunant‘s name even though the details remain blurry now.
The museum was dark and cold, as most museums are kept in order to preserve artifacts better, and I remember how solemn it all felt. It was a walk back in time, a remembrance of people who’ve given up their lives in war and other people who strove to improve the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians during war.
The most poignant artifact I’ve seen that day is probably this postcard from a prisoner of war to some named Marguerite. It’s in French and my photo is, sadly, quite shaky so some of the words are hard to make out. But it starts with
“My little Marguerite,
I have written you a few days ago and I was very surprised not to have received any response. It would be very kind if you could write me a small note. That would make me very happy.”
These were real people who loved and cried and felt pain just like us. Did she ever write him back? Did he get out alive? Did they find each other?
The International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is located at Avenue de la Paix 17, 1202 Genève, Switzerland but is temporarily closed, probably due to COVID-19.
When word of an intriguing video spread like wildfire among Thermomix users on FaceBook, my knee-jerk reaction on Twitter was “Who is this David Castro guy? Suddenly I’m a fan!”.
So I looked him up. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that his talent goes beyond simply transforming what’s usually considered an annoying chime into something actually catchy. It turns out David Castro is a singer/composer based in Madrid. He had concerts lined up in Madrid but then COVID-19 happened and they had to be cancelled. He also has concerts in Mexico scheduled for July this year but, with the current worldwide situation still very uncertain as of this writing, it remains to be seen whether they can push through or not.
I found his videos on YouTube. I found his playlist on Spotify. And guess what? I fell in love with his music, especially this very poignant duet version of a song that he wrote and composed called ‘Todavía Puede’. (Cue to self: Put Google Translate to good use. Dig out rarely-used Spanish language skills out of dusty cupboard.) I sent him a friend request on FaceBook and he accepted. I sent him a short list of interview questions for my blog and, soon after, he emailed me his reply.
Bueno, ¡conozcamos a David Castro!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a musician and Primary School teacher from Madrid (Spain). Music is my passion and I love to include it in my daily teaching sessions with my 10 years old students.
Ten years go I founded a band called Street Wings. We have recorded three studio albums ‘Call It Home’, ‘Up To Heaven’ and ‘Synchronized’ and played our music in many countries. You can find them all in Spotify, Itunes, YouTube…
Two years ago I started my own project as David Castro composing songs in Spanish. I recorded an album called ‘El Idioma De Los Relojes’ which is bringing me a lot of light to my life. (NB: ‘El Idioma De Los Relojes’ means ‘The Language of the Clocks’)
2. How and when did you start composing songs?
My parents and my sister are all musicians. My father Félix Castro played for the National Orchestra of Spain and had the chance to travel all around the world playing with the best musicians in the best theatres and venues. I’ve always admire him a lot. My mother is a very talented pianist and my sister is a violinist.
Sooner or later it had to happen that I fell in love with any instrument. It was at the age of 17 when I discovered the electric guitar thanks to Mark Knopfler’s music with Dire Straits.
Three years later I was writing my own songs hoping one day I could play them at any stage beyond my bedroom. I could not imagine how fortunate in life I was going to be.
Now that I’m 32 I look back and it seems to be a dream to have played my music all over Europe in countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy or Spain. Last summer I had the chance to go on tour to Mexico for my first time and if everything goes well next July I will come back again.
3. That video you made with the Thermomix chime has gone viral, racking up more than 100,000 views in two days on Facebook alone. Can you share with us how you came up with the inspiration for that?
I always try to share my positive attitude at life through my music and sense of humour. Specially in a moment like this one we are living. People really need it.
Some time ago I thought it would be fun to compose a song from that sound the Thermomix does that can be annoying if you are not able to stop it for a while. But I never tried it until a few days ago.
I had a lot of fun composing the song and filming that video. I didn’t expect it would go viral and reach so many countries. The best thing about all this is to see how a simple video or song is connecting so many people around the world.
4. Please tell us about the video project with Flowithme.
One of the people I met from all this was Sara, a Spanish girl who is working in Cork and is running a project called ‘Flowithme’. She contacted me through FaceBook and talking about the impact the video had we though of going farther and involve more people that are willing to participate in this kind of initiatives. So we started asking for videos of people all around the world singing to their Thermomix to be part of a new video.
The aim is to send a message to the world: Stay positive. Separated we remain together. [Update: You can view the new video here.]
5. May I know how long you’ve had your Thermomix and the dish that you make with it often?
I started living on my own four years ago. I knew it would be a great investment to get a Thermomix as I know they are so useful and last so many years. My mother always had one and I remember how delicious were the recipes she made thanks to the Thermomix.
This time I was cooking ‘Salmorejo’ which is kind of a cold tomato soup, very similar to gazpacho. It’s typical from the South of Spain. If you haven’t tried it now it’s the time. You’ll love it
6. Just one final question. Some ladies were wondering if you’re still single.
It’s the one thing that everyone is talking right now and…at long last, I finally caved — I made myself a cup of Dalgona coffee.
Here’s the Thermomix method that I use and — good news! — it works with the latest Thermomix model, the TM6; its predecessor, the TM5; and the much older but still very robust TM31.
2 Tbsp Nescafe Classic or 1 Tbsp Nescafe Gold Blend
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup Cold Milk
Method:. 1) Place instant coffee and sugar inside mixing bowl. Pulvurise for 10 seconds on speed 10. 2) Attach butterfly whisk. 3) Add water and whisk it all up for 2 minutes on 37C, speed 3.5. 4) Meanwhile, place cold milk inside a fancy glass (or whatever you have on hand). Once the Thermomix is done whisking, scoop out the frothy confection using the spatula and place on top of the cold milk. 5) Take pics to post on Instagram, give it a good stir, and enjoy!
Someone once said that fire can either burn dough into ashes or transform it into bread.
In pretty much the same way, people all around the world have responded very differently to lockdowns or self-quarantines in their homes due to the Corona virus. A good number found the experience of being house-bound indefinitely to be a suffocating experience, almost akin to imprisonment; many found relief in having found an opportunity to slow down and breathe; a select few just simply shone in their own unique ways.
David Castro, a singer/composer from Madrid, Spain, is one of those unique individuals who has found inspiration in isolation. As the caption in his FaceBook post stated, “Perdí la cuenta de los días que llevamos. Lo que no pienso perder es el sentido del humor. La mejor vacuna para estos días mientras llega la de verdad. (I’ve lost count of the number of days that have passed. The one thing that I’m not going to lose is my sense of humor. The best vaccine for these days until the real one arrives.”) In that post, he shared a video that showed how he cleverly transformed the iconic Thermomix chime from something that most people consider annoying into something so beautiful. Just take a look at his video:
His work is just brilliant in its simplicity, genius in its creativity, thus, it did not come as a surprise when the video was very well received by the global Thermomix community, racking up over 100,000 views in FaceBook over the first two days alone.
I, for one, will never hear the Thermomix chime quite the same way ever again. Muchas gracias, David Castro. Thank you for reminding all of us that, in these trying times, we must all be resilient and allow this fire to transform us into bread instead of burning us into ashes.
It’s been a while, crocodile. Understatement of the year. So much has happened since the last time I updated this blog that I can’t possibly squeeze all of them into a single post. And along the way, blogging has, it seems, gone passé with the rise of social media and the instant gratification that they bring.
But then again, I started this blog some 14 years ago when I was taking care of twin boys, sleep-deprived, housebound, with no other venting outlet other than this virtual journal of sorts. This blog was my escape, a virtual space that I could call my own, a place where I could write anything I wanted. It’s quite ironic that I find myself pounding away on my keyboard yet again on the wee hours of the night, in dire need of sleep, housebound yet again (this time, due to the Novel Corona Virus), and with an explosion of thoughts fighting for space inside my head. I am right back where I started.
I’ve always found solace in the stillness of these hours, where my inner voice can find a way to emerge from amidst the cacophony of innumerable trains of thought, random ideas, and sudden bursts of memory. As the rest of the world sleeps, and with my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, I can finally hear myself think. And I realised with a start that, at the core of all this panic of the Corona Virus, people are actually simply afraid of the unknown — all the things that we don’t know about the virus: its origins; its exact method of transmission; its cure and prevention; and, the ultimate unknown of all, death itself.
But while it’s true that the Corona virus has caused thousands of deaths in such a short span of time, the truth of the matter is that death is inevitable and has been written for all of us long before we even existed within our mother’s wombs. Getting infected with this virus is, putting it in a rather blasé way, just another way to die. We will all die one way or another. What is most important is — how do we live this life that we have been given so that, by the time the Angel of Death makes himself apparent, we can go without fear nor regret?
Wherever you are, whoever you are, treasure the time that you have now with the people you love. Use this time to do the things you’ve always wanted to start but never had the time to do so. Start writing that book. Or learning to paint. Or taking that online course. Take the time to reconnect with old friends via phone call, email, or text. Make this virus an excuse to mend relationships that are in dire need of mending, by simply saying “Hope you and your family are well” or “You’re in my thoughts and prayers”, when perhaps, what you actually want to say is “I’m sorry” or “Can we start over again?”.
Life is good. And yes, blogging world, I am back!!!
I am Mimi -- writer, incidental world traveler, photography enthusiast, self-confessed gadget geek, aspiring polyglot (7 languages to date), and Thermomix superfan.
I'm a Filipina married to a Malaysian. Kuala Lumpur has been my home since 1993.
You may reach me at mimi[at]sleeplessinkl.my