Now that semester has begun (this week was Week 1) all the food outlets on campus are back to their full menus, so on the days I haven’t brought food from home there’s lots to choose from.
On Wednesday I had rice, curried vegetables, Malay chicken and panfried fish. I had lunch around 1pm; my first class of semester was at 2:30pm. For some reason I felt really nervous and almost nauseous about the class. Last year I was definitely nervous before my first classes, as it was my first time teaching. I didn’t expect to feel nervous this time round, but to my annoyance I did. It was like a physical reaction, like my body was nervous although I hadn’t consciously thought or articulated the words “I feel nervous”. Before I started eating I felt like I wouldn’t be able to eat anything without throwing up, but I knew it wouldn’t do me any good to feel hungry or teach on an empty, growly stomach. I nibbled slowly on my lunch. The panfried fish was lovely and did the trick – I slowly began to feel more like my usual self again. My food was well and truly cold by the time I finished, but I felt okay. Last year I actually felt my hands shaking a little when I addressed the class for the very first time (I hope they didn’t notice!). This year, once I was standing in front of the class and started talking, I felt really comfortable. I was energetic and enthusiastic and confident. I smiled a lot, and I really did feel like smiling. I felt really happy, actually. All 16 students I had on my list turned up, and we were squashed together in a very small, hot, stuffy, smelly room, but everyone seemed keen to be there.
On Thursday, I felt a teensy bit nervous again before the next first class (remember, I’m taking two tutorial groups this semester). I had nasi lemak for lunch. Again, once I started eating slowly I began to feel better. The sambal you see in the top left corner is super hot and so – you can guess what I’m going to say next – I don’t eat it. The fried peanuts and ikan bilis (the little fried fishies) have a sugary glaze but are still quite savoury. I love the omelette (though I wish there was more) and of course the cucumber is good too. The rice tastes of coconut and lime and other flavours I’m still trying to identify – overall, it’s yummy. For $3.50 it’s a cheap, tasty light meal. If I wanted to pay an additional $2.50 or so, I could have some chicken or lamb curry with it.
I spent today working on my thesis. For lunch, I had char bee hoon (fried rice noodles)with egg, beansprouts, fish cake, chicken and prawns, with just a hint of chilli. No pre-class nerves of course, and I steam-shovelled it down.
And no, I don’t breathe garlic on my classes after lunch; I floss and brush my teeth after eating (luckily we have a sink in our office so I don’t need to do this in the ladies loo downstairs). I also have chewing gum in my mouth which I keep under my tongue near my lower back molars. It’s a little hard to explain, but basically I don’t actually chew it while teaching, but it sits there unobtrusively doing its minty fresh thing.