Friday, 15 March 2013

The Plight of Maids in Malaysia

I am very disappointed and quite disgusted with my cousin. She had stolen some money from her brother and the maid, who had been working for them for more than 10 years was blamed. Instead of owning up to it, my cousin chose to let the maid take the blame and let her be sent home after years of service. My cousin is not 10- she is over 17 so she should have developed some kind of conscience by now.

I am also disgusted with her parents but what can I say? I suppose every parent want and in a way, should believe their child. Whatever it is, the least they should/could have done is to try to teach their children right from wrong and to have some respect for another human being. I guess one of the reasons why I am so angry about this (technically, it isn't even my problem) is because obviously, women who leave their families and countries to work as a slave (practically) in Malaysia, do not have a choice. They do it because they are poor, because they need to take care of their families. Yet, my cousin, who at most, would have gotten a spanking (still common in Malaysia oops) or grounded, chose to ruin this poor lady's life, ensuring that this lady and her family will not have even less of an income.

I think the heart of the matter is: this women aren't considered human beings. This isn't uncommon in Malaysia. Most people do see these ladies as 'lesser beings'. It is true that not all maids are great (lets face it, people who are willing to work 24/7 for like 150 euro a month, aren't exactly the most educated) but there are many families who seem to think they are doing maids a great favour. It's a working relationship which means they both need each other. The most annoying and most common comment I hear is "Oh we give her food, we let her eat with us, she can eat meat, she can have a day off on Hari Raya etc. so she is lucky to have us". Like as if that is something to be commended! Hahaha, sorry but all those things are necessities and are a given. Those things aren't benefits!

OK, I shall stop because I'll just get more grumpy.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Meals in March

Wow, am I organised or what?!

I never plan meals. Normally, what happens is we end up not feeling like eating what we've planned and it'll be wasted. Lately though, it's worked out quite nicely- mostly because I decided that I don't enjoy grocery shopping that much anymore so I'd rather go once or twice a week instead of 5 times a week.

This month's meals are as follows:

March 1st: Savoury Pancakes
March 2nd: Pesto Chicken Breasts with Potatoes and a French Salad
March 3rd: Eating Out
March 4th: Burritos
March 5th: Slavink (which is basically mince meat wrapped in a slice of meat), red cabbage, potatoes for the Dutchman. I will be having sushi with friends yay
March 6th: Thai Beef Stir Fry
March 7th: Takeaway
March 8th: Ratatouille
March 9th: Chicken & Ginger Hotpot
March 10th: Indian Style Chicken Thighs with rice
March 11th: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
March 12th: Tuna Chilli Linguine
March 13th: Vegetable Tart
March 14th: Lemon Chicken Roast
March 15th: Mackeral with Chickpeas

Too lazy to type the rest out but will do sooner or later!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Monday, 17 December 2012

Renting in The Netherlands

The rental property market is quite competitive in The Netherlands at the moment due to the mortgage crisis. Many people, including us, do not want to buy a house just yet because prices are dropping, mortgages are harder to get and the amount you can actually borrow is pathetic).

The rental market can be divided into 2 sub-markets:

i) Sociale Woning
These houses/apartments are subsidised (by the government) rental homes for households earning a maximum of €34 085 euro per year. The maximum rental for these places are €664.66 per month (but most are in the €250-500 range). 10% of subsidised rental homes can go to families with incomes higher than €34 085 BUT no more than just over €40 000. Sadly, we cannot qualify for this as our household income is above that. What's even sadder is, the homes are ALREADY subsidised yet the people who get to live there can also apply for rental benefits from the government.

It can be hard to get a property this way as waiting lists in big cities can be very long (something like 7 years in Amsterdam). If you're homeless or in a terrible position, you can request to be put ahead of other people in the list.

ii) Vrije Sector
Homes are not subsidised and are thus much more expensive than 'sociale woning'. Also, there are not all that many homes which are available for a longer period of time. Most are available until the homes are sold. Moving is expensive plus renters are obliged to allow viewers in the home whenever needed.

What is even more annoying is renters have to earn 50 times (if one income) or 80 times (2 incomes) the monthly rent! That's just crazy because on an annual income of €100 000, you can only rent a place of €1250 which lets face it, will not get you much (depending on where you want to leave). For €1250 per month, one could rent an apartment in a lousy suburb with a high crime rate in Amsterdam.

So we're stuck:( There's no point moving unless we can rent something a little nicer. Or we'll just have to bite the bullet and buy something for the next 5-10 years and move again after that.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Sinterklaas 2012

The Dutchman and I are not romantic. I'd like him to be but he's more likely to do the dishes over buying me a bunch of flowers haha. A few years ago, he surprised me by preparing a 4-course meal all by himself. We had just moved and had barely any furniture. The dining table that evening was a ratty, old desk and the table cloth was a bed sheet. Good times.

We enjoyed it so much that it is now an annual tradition- he cooks for me on Sinterklaas and I try to impress him on Christmas Eve/Day.

Dutchman's menu this year:

Dutch smoked beef sausage with sauerkraut braised in beer, apples and a forest fruit confiture

Poached Scottish smoked salmon stuffed with cod and an apple salad

Ribeye steak

A peach and orange mousse
OK this isn't food but the first time he's ever actually surprised me with a present! HAPPY!
All in all, very tasty! Plus, it only took him a few hours to shop and prepare the meal. I have some ideas for my Christmas dinner but I foresee myself running around like a headless chicken trying to source certain cuts of meat or spending hours in the kitchen just for a single meringue!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Flowers of the Week

I still buy flowers every week-sometimes twice a week- but hadn't bothered taking pictures for some time. Time to revive this weekly feature, don't you think?!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Pork Tenderloin Stew with Bockbier

My HelloFresh box arrived on Tuesday evening and the first meal I cooked was the Pork Tenderloin Stew with Bockbier (brown beer- this one's from Texel).

It was yummy and was such a generous portion that we had leftovers for lunch. Oh and I don't think we've eaten that much vegetables in our lives!

We still have the pumpkin mash and fish to make (went out for dinner yesterday) - hope they're delicious too.