Monday, February 08, 2016

Gong Xi Fa Cai

That is the Mandarin greeting in the title. This is the Cantonese: Gong Hei Fat Choy

Hong Kong is something special at Chinese New Year. The whole city wears an air of festivity and the beautiful decorations remind everyone to look forward, into the blessings and goodness of the coming year. We had a lovely day of celebration today and have a few more ahead of us before everyday life takes back over.

I wish you and your family a wonderful year of the Monkey. May all good health and happiness and prosperity be yours. 

Friday, February 05, 2016

This phone cover situation

I'm not sure when I began to care what my phone cover looked like. I remember being all fine with the tacky-but-sturdy plastic cover that were standard Vodafone issued in the UK. And then whoomp, it's like through a time machine to this future where I'm always trying to decide if I need a new cover or not. 

I had a Chumbak one for ages (which I loved loved loved and was so ghisoed by the time I changed phones) but then I went off them for no good reason. Then my phone changed and I had a clear plastic one and no matter how hard I looked I couldn't find anything I liked. So I 'tried' a whole bunch, bought randomly and from many different places. Nothing stuck.

In December, on the Mumbai leg of our journey, I admired my niece R's mobile cover. I was talking about how hard it was to decide what to get and that hers looked cute. Next thing I knew, for the princely sum of Rs.200 she had ordered me the exact same off Amazon India. 

I used it for a few weeks but the liquid wasn't really moving at a normal speed and the stars and stuff getting stuck at corners was just plain annoying me. So I rummaged around my cupboard and found I had bought this wood carved over for my friend T who loves Totoro. 

And now I'm pretending to love Totoro (till I find what I really want, which is something that probably does not even exist). Sometimes my own ridiculous and convoluted thoughts about mundane things annoy me. This is one of those times. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Childhood traditions 2

Here is one I set up when Kid was 2 and haven't yet stopped 4 years later. 

1. Every day when he comes home from school (and before that, from daycare/ play school) I would have 3 possible activities set out. As an example: a puzzle box, a small pile of books and a third set up of a way of using an existing toy or doing some craft. 

2. So he would change out of the day of grubby clothes, chomp down his snack and then pick one activity. You would think building a toy or crafting would be what he picked everyday but I was surprised by how many times he picked books or puzzles. (An aside: The joy of lying on ones bed with a small child tucked up in the crook of ones arm and reading together - that's a priceless memory which will sustain me well into old age.)

3. The choices have grown more complex as he has grown. A simple set of paints and canvas like above wouldn't be taken as seriously now as a few years or even months ago. Not unless it involves stencils or glue or something else with texture. I'm having to up my game to keep him interested in continuing to play with me. 

4. Activities usually involve lying/ sitting on the floor and take about 15-20 minutes. It takes me about the same amount of time after he has gone to school to figure out what the 3 choices are and set them up. Over the years I have discovered that we have a plethora of toys that get forgotten and I often reintroduce them this way to see if he has indeed outgrown them. 

5. This is what I like to call 'Precious time' . It's time that moves both slowly and quickly; he focuses on a task (this has helped in many ways with school work etc), he unwinds with something new everyday that does not involve a gadget, he gets to use his imagination in amazing ways and most importantly, he talks. I get a near 15-20 minute dialogue about life in general (in the context of the activity/ toy) and I need to prod only very gently for detail. 

6. We've kept this tradition on for 4+ years now and I won't stop till he rebels. Here is way a recent 20 minute craft pile we created: the Life Star (imaginary brother of the Star Wars Death Star which he would like in Lego but has agreed he would be hard pressed to manage till he is older {recommended age 14+, 3000+ pieces}. Cardboard box, tape and glue, colouring pens, Lego people and imagination. He will get hours of play with it)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Summer shoes

I bought these cotton and hemp shoes for a pittance in Chatuchak market in Bangkok this summer. My sil got the same pair and proceeded to wear them instantly, wearing them thin and lamenting only having bought one pair.

 Still voting against closed shoes in the heat of Singapore I put them at the bottom of the shoe cupboard and forgot about them till I was hunting through the shoe pile in the recent Hong Kong cold spell. A cold spell I was grossly underprepared for. These turned out to be the only properly closed shoes I owned when the shivering cold began. I quickly remedied the situation with a few pairs of shoes - closed, black, boots etc. But in the few days while I got sorted these were my saviour. The thin cotton and hemp mix didn't keep the feet warm and they were soaked through the second the rain even threatened to fall but goodness me I was grateful for them in place of my boat like flip flops filling with water! 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Monkey year

What better way to begin a month of writing with something auspicious? In a short week we will be celebrating Chinese New Year, that most hallowed of celebrations. V and I were here in Hong Kong in 2005 for CNY and although 11 years later that seems like a lifetime away I have some pretty amazing snapshot memories of it. 

The decorations are everywhere! This is the prettiest I have seen so far - in a mall - and I am surprisingly not put off by the red & pink combo which usually does not sit well with me.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


January has sped by. Literally sped by.

It was a month of two halves for me. The first half was the lovely (second part) of the India holiday and then the busy-ness that getting back to a new school term entails. I thought the back to school but would mean things slowing down but it's been quite the opposite. The second half of the month involved hospital, planned surgery, recovery, many doctors visits and enduring the coldest winter Hong Kong has seen in a while. It's all good now and I'm back to up and running with some speed if not full speed.

I had forgotten about the whole picture/ write everyday in January till the first couple of weeks had passed. Decided I would put that on hold when I was less preoccupied with my own situation. Well it's February tomorrow and here goes. A bit of writing everyday. My own blog-stagram as it were.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016...not the resolution one.

It's here, this New Year, 2016; bright and happy if greeting cards and whatsapp messages are to be believed. We are back from our wonderful trip and have been rudely awoken into Term 2 by alarms this morning as School beckons. 

It was mostly a great trip. For the first time ever Kid had not. a. single. meltdown or crying fest for anything. On the contrary my seasoned traveler took everything from ridiculous flight delays to lost-for-7-hours-with-incompetent-driver and ridiculously early safari times to the running out of his favorite crackers in his stride. He showed great patience and a far greater understanding of many things on this trip than he has before: the sometimes chaotic sights and sounds, the entirely encompassing love of family and the aging of his grandparents. There was a moment in a restaurant which had a step up and then a step down and I had my mothers hand. Before I could say anything he went and offered and held my dads hand to help him. My dad didn't need the help but he takes every chance to hold his small grandsons hand and this moment brought a lump to my throat for them both. 

Some bits of our time in Delhi:
- In the quite mild Delhi mornings I had lovely lie-ins (even 8am counts!) while Kid and my dad ate hot buttered toast in front of the heater and Oggy the Cockroach (in Hindi and a programme I never ordinarily let him watch). 
- We had lunch at Punjabi by Nature twice and Kid ate buttered naans and chicken tikkis galore. He loved it even more than Peshawari in Mumbai (which he had proclaimed was his true love just the week before). 
- We had to hire taxis to follow the odd even Delhi experiment. Not practical for us but certainly a wonderfully de-congested ride through Delhi on all 4 days.
- I had a get together with 15 school classmates one evening. I hosted it at home and had it catered by the wonderful Rumi's kitchen. We ate and talked till tummies and jaws could bear no more. Many I was seeing for the first time since school but many were just catching up from previous trips. It was a great evening with many interesting discussions and much reminiscing about our youth. 
- Wandered around Dilli Haat after 15 years. It has changed and almost all for the better. Lovely to see that they are more organized and better at displaying their beautiful hand made crafts. Even better to see signs asking people not to bargain and instead to respect the prices set by these artisans. I didn't buy as much as I anticipated but did get a spiffy pair of sandals and Kid got a wire puzzle thing from my mum (I was pleased to note it looks exactly like the ones She used to buy us when were kids). 
- Saw a few other people, none for long enough though. Spent loads of time with my mum and dad and Nik and P chatting about something anything nothing. Eating kathi rolls, indo-Chinese, grilled cheese toast and copious amounts of chocolate. 

It's the start of a new term, a new year and 11 days in I'm already behind in my list of things to do. I have some reflections and resolutions to post and I'm hoping the positive attitude I gained in the Delhi air lasts. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Eat my dust (or The last one for this year)

1. Back to points as I seem to function well within them. This is my last post in what has been a big and busy year.

2. I'm in Mumbai after 4 days in Kanha. We had a sleek and powerful leopard saunter out in front of our jeep just as we were giving up hope of seeing any animals on our first 6am Safari. A 2 minute walk just ahead of us. Magic.

3. The next day's 6am safari was turning out to be disappointing when suddenly, on our left, just outside my jeep window we passed a majestic Tigress standing still as a statue. After considering us for about 45 seconds she turned and crossed behind our jeep and wandered at a leisurely pace through the grassland and into the dense forest. 

4. The journey to Kanha was pretty painful with a driver who lied about knowing the way and drove us around for a few extra hours. And that's an understatement. We subsequently did two early morning safaris and ate dust in the open air jeeps, following the mud tracks and stopping to exchange news with other jeeps on their sightings. Despite long showers our ears remain clogged with dust. But the majesty of wild animals from both Cats to Barahsinghas and blue-singed peacock to the many others made up for all the drama of the journey. The forest was beautiful; dense and very green. The hotel was wonderful and the hospitality just amazing. Every person we met seemed to care deeply about it and told us personal stories of their own brushes with animals and of the many conservation efforts and the delicate balance between the man and wilderness. Such passion was entirely endearing. 

5. After leaving behind the 3 beautiful German Shepard dogs (Cheetah, Maya and Punch) at the hotel we are back in Mumbai to ring in the New Year before we scatter off to different places. Kid and I to Dilli meri jaan, V to another year at his desk job and the Cousin and his parents to Singers for school and work. We leave behind Another brother and his wife and Girl Cousin who are playing wonderful hosts to our hosts of suitcases and laundry and general small children clutter. 

6. It was a big year for me. Even though only about 2.5 of you bothered to wish me (yes I am still M.a.d) time marched on and in mid July I turned the big 4-0. It was a return to the scene of my childhood and a visit to the apartment complex we lived in in Bangkok. New memories with the Kid and Cousin and all 4 adults in a city so old and yet so new. I loved every minute of the trip; from leisurely meals at some of the finest restaurants (the celebrated Gaggan which everyone raves about but didn't quite do it for me and Nahm for a Thai meal I will not forget in a hurry), to river side jaunts, the reverence and beauty of the reclining Buddha and the frantic bustle of Chatuchak. 

7. Turning 40 is a big deal. Yes it's just a number and all my peers are turning it too but I've been working my way up to it and reminding myself daily (for many years) that I would soon be 40in2015. I found something of a piece of myself and peace within myself this year. I am not one for the mumbo jumbo of soul searching but I felt that in the run up to it I found a lot of clarity in my life. A big part of this was letting go of angst and control over actions of others and my own feelings towards people and situations that I had no power to change. I feel like I am in a calmer space now. I live under no illusion of youth and fully accept that I am well into middle age and frankly it's a wonderful place to be. And so dear readers, happy birthday to me!

8. We made some important life decisions this year. Both inadvertently and purposefully (and not without some trepidation). One of those big decisions involved moving countries and leaving behind Cousin and aunt/ uncle, a school we adored and many friends we had grown close to in Singapore. In hindsight, and in spite of the teething difficulties of any move, it has been good for us. It was the right decision from many angles and it has brought to the forefront that despite the distance the boys remain close as brothers can be and that is something we can continue to foster with ease. I think my greatest lesson was about how a positive attitude can mean that difficult decisions often have surprisingly good outcomes.

9. One of the most surprising outcomes has been how much I love Hong Kong. I only ever really noticed the mid levels and Central and Causeway Bay till we actually decided to move. And to me they were a cleaner version of busy Mumbai; a jumble of buildings and people packed densely into an important centre of Commerce. I wasn't too keen, although I'm always up for an adventure. I decided we should give it a shot, adventures are the adrenaline of life and that I could learn to love it as I once had cold London. Surprisingly, (only to me) once here I quickly fell in love with how that Centre is but a snap shot of the city. It is predominantly lush and green, an interesting mix of history and modern day drama, wonderfully complex beneath the sharp edges of a bustling commercial Centre. I'm loving all the exploring and new facets to the city at each turn. 

10. The health report is mixed. My approaching 40 body decided to give my sloth like brain some shaking. As my mind grew lighter, more sure, more settled it was my body that began collapsing around it. A number of health issues crept up this year but they have been swiftly dealt with and now I am nearly back to an even keel.

11. This years introspection has brought to the fore an entirely new appreciation for how vivid and complex life is. From the refugee crisis to pollution and poverty to continued Gender inequality, there were many things to ponder, act upon and preach on behalf off. The adage every drop helps to make an ocean has never been truer. And while I try and live the best possible life I can and teach my child to go at the world gently and with kindness I find myself looking for practical solutions, everyday things that can be my 'drops'. So so many have been imbibed and learnt this year. I'm hoping 2016 is going to be a continuation, an education and enhancement to this way of life. Of one thing I am sure - there is far more good than evil, far more kindness than anger and far more people rooting for peace than strife. Now if only more people would see how their individual efforts could bring change, 2016 and the years beyond are bound to be safer, brighter and more peaceful. 

12. All that remains is to say that Christmas Day marked 14 years of marriage for V and I. It has been a wonderful journey and even in its rare moments of mild strife I have never for an instant regretted this life choice. In fact this year we have reveled in It and found a balance that bears marking. Unlike our London days with our bunches of tulips, homemade Pizza, bottle of wine and walk in the cold sunshine we celebrated by landing in Mumbai at 5am (many many hours late). We had a day of family and I had but a moment all day to reflect on how I did miss that old quiet life but equally loved this new laughter and love family-filled one. All that remains is to wish you and yours a wonderful and safe New Year celebration and a year of interesting and enjoyable experiences. Be kind and see you on the other side! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Decorating decorating

I start and then I cannot stop. Here is what we have been up to where Christmas is concerned:

Ok this is not me but our building lobby. It all began one Sunday morning two weeks ago. The boundary wall was festooned with fairy lights and these beautiful pots of Poinsettias appeared all along the lobby. It all looked wonderful; festive and elegant without being over the top.

Then the next day a Christmas tree appeared in the lobby. Real and smelling all woodsy, with elegant red shiny baubles and fake red wrapped gifts all tied up in bows below it. Still good.

Then they came and ruined it with giant purple and acorn and silver and green trimmings and wreaths and gnomes and mini snow covered trees all over the available surfaces - along staircases and next to the plants and on the lobby desk and every wall....overdone and far too much clashing going on....

Meanwhile in Casa 30 (OK OK 40) we had begun our own decorating. I like to try and follow the philosophy of reuse and recycle and being makers. We don't get a real tree (we have enough opportunities to see those) and instead make one. It's been a few years since we began this and it's always been interesting as a process and not always beautiful. 

This year we used our TV box. We covered it with brown paper and then used washi tape to create the silhouette of the tree. Then green and white kitchen string with clear mounts and red green blue pins to hold them in place. 

All along the string are little Christmas tree shaped clips, holding in place pictures of people and places and events that have been important to us this year. Clips are a couple of years old: 

That's Mt. Everest base camp and a very excited V's hands in the air. You get the idea.

I can't show you the finished product on the blog but it looks pretty amazing with all the pictures on it. The washi tape is not symmetrical and that's because the tree was created mainly by a 6 year old (with some supervision and an opinion which leads him to shout 'don't help me, I can do it' at regular intervals). I think the final product looks pretty spectacular in a homemade way and the pictures have given us a chance to reflect on the year and all the changes that have come home tonour little family. 

In other parts of the house Christmas decorations have appeared all through December. Our lovely smiley Father Christmas is sat next to the lovely poinsettias that my friend M gave us. 

And the main cabinet in our dining room has this little decoration going on:

The baubles are table decorations I bought two years ago. The trees are a set from IKEA, bought this year - I thought they looked quite interesting. They have some silver bells on them that I have had for a few years. The ceramic ornaments I bought from a very talented woman in Singapore last year. We sent many of those to friends last year and these ones were left for us to use. 

Then today we created a table centrepiece. Fishbowl which we already had combined with a cheap packet of 'make your own snow with water', paper trees from a new multipack, small wooden Santa figurine and of course the ubiquitous Lego police man who completes everything: 

And of course our little wooden tree. It's been painted over a few times but we still love it. 

I find I am reluctant to buy new and buy more things whether it's Diwali or Christmas. I'm enjoying using what we have and repurposing things to be useful over a longer time period. It's the last few days of school before we close for the holidays. It's a busy time of year and the chilly Hong Kong weather is taking some getting used to. I'm having to bundle up after the years of flip flop living. The festive cheer in the air is certainly making it easier to bear the cold. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

When I don't set myself challenges...

...I get lazy.

List of random things:
1. My aunt and uncle celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We couldn't celebrate with them as their plans to come celebrate in India were scuppered by ill health. But from here and all over India they were being sent love. The pictures of their celebration with my cousin B and his family in the US were lovely. I'm hoping we can celebrate in 2016.

2. Tomorrow, the 13th, is my cousin B's birthday. Join me in wishing her a very happy birthday. When sisters were being given out I won the ultimate prize. Have an amazing day. You keep me sane.

3. Our lovely two sided clock from the Rail museum in Delhi is giving up the ghost. The mechanism on one side is faulty and this is leading to some hilarious confusions with Kid who is just about learning to read the time. 

4. Kid had his Christmas concert last night. We lucked out with seats 3 rows back but right in front of him. Lots of waving when they got into their rows. It was amazing listening to the 1st and 2nd Graders singing and reciting poems and carols and songs. A gymnasium full of innocent and joyful and enthusiastic voices. It was just the right length (25 minutes for each Grade); a wonderful evening where for once I took no pictures or video (part of my technological paring down especially in his presence) putting nothing between myself and my child but my absolute attention and focus on him and his classmates. I'm happy to rely on the school recording, his memory of the evening and the burst of joy I saved in my heart. It was a gym full of pride and love and innocence - if one could package that it would be priceless. 

5. I'm clearly terrible with keeping up. I have a few drafts I'll get to soon but really in January I need a new plan. I'm thinking a picture a day and some writing to go with it. Pictures of my house, this city and my life. Any opinions? 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Childhood traditions 1

In my childhood, and this is not just from my overactive imagination, my parents Nik and I sat down to eat at 6.30pm every weeknight. Of course for large chunks of time (sometimes months) my dad would be traveling or posted to a different city and then it was just us and mum. But when he was in town this was sacrosanct. 

He got back from work between 5.45 and 6. It was an age before mobile phones and the Internet so there was very little bringing of work home. Once he was home he was all ours. We got back from playing outside around 6. Everyone had a shower before dinner (beside mum who was cooking) and we all pitched in laying the table, getting water and cutlery and condiments. We sat down at 6.30 to eat. My mum cooked up delicious meals and dinner was served. Of course we complained that we had to eat so early and that we didn't have the standard dal chawal fare. Like all children, no matter how good it was, we found something to complain about. 

And yet, as a middle aged mother trying to forge small traditions in my own home, those dinners were one of the defining moments of my childhood. Our parents ate with us and we talked, being asked to tell them new or funny or interesting or annoying things that happened in school that day. And they entertained all our questions, told us stuff, encouraged discussions and generally laughed a lot. It wasn't a walk in a sunshiny bluebell field but it wasn't far off. Like any family we had days when any one or more of us were grumpy, stressed, bored, upset. But essentially we had mostly great meals. 

Like all families we had numerous little traditions and oddities. This however was the one that I hold most dear. Next time, new traditions we are forging. 

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Chennai my sweet

Chennai is quite possibly my favourite Indian city. And the floods are ravaging it as we watch helplessly from afar. My relatives have all marked themselves safe but no doubt there are many in peril. From pictures of the water touching the under bellies of planes to the sight of people wading through chest high water, the pictures all over the Internet are giving us a mere glimpse into how bad things are. Social media is helping coordinate some rescue efforts, call for supplies and show an outpouring of affection. It's hard to sit and wait for news and TV newsloops are not helping by dramatising a lot of the events instead of just reporting them. 

I'm sitting here colouring away, letting my worries control themselves by making my hands do stuff, like colour my lovely book and create our Christmas tree. Chennai you are in my thoughts. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


It began as a lark. I had read somewhere that colouring was the new 'thing' for adults and I thought it was a good 'joke' present. And every time I walked into a bookshop I would see displays of various complex looking colouring books for grown ups. So I gave my sister in law T and friend H each this book, the Secret Garden, as a parting-from-Singapore gift. As it was a buy 2 get something off the 3rd free I gifted myself a copy as well. And promptly forgot about it. 

Then my friend M came to visit in the early days of having moved into our Hong Kong apartment. I remember her talking about this book on Facebook and so I pulled it off the bookshelf and gave it to her. I hadn't had a moment to colour and I didn't see myself colouring so it was my pleasure to do so. But as soon as it was gone and I could see that gap in my bookshelf I DESPERATELY WANTED the book. I DESPERATELY WANTED to colour. Talk about juvenile. I thought I could shake it. 

Last week I went to a bookshop to buy the last two books for December Pie and saw a display of the colouring books - they seems to be procreating. Anyway, after a quick internal battle in which my juvenile side won, I got myself another copy of The Secret Garden. Ever since that evening Kid and I have spent 15 minutes before dinner colouring (with a timer as it's easy to get carried away). It's slow going (for one of us!) but we are having some great conversations over it. 

I'm not sure about therapeutic but I am certainly enjoying it more than I thought I would. I think I need new pens/ pencils. Also a steadier hand and a bit more imagination in my use of colours. Kid thinks he is a famous artist - no crisis of confidence there. I need patience. I guess that's a lesson I am likely to learn page by page.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

December Pie

Last day of November. I'm tempted to take a month off and not write a smidge. No one is more surprised that I posted Every. Single. Day this month than me. I am a bit pleased that I kept to my self imposed 'write everyday' plan. But I am tired of coming up with things to write/ finding the words to write those things/ not missing a day - but pleased tired, if that makes sense.

Last year Kid saw an 'Elf on the Shelf' at his friends house and ever since been talking about us getting one. I frankly am not for it - can't imagine I would feel enthusiastic enough to move it every night and really do not understand the point of it. 

Also last year, he was sent an advent calendar by a friend in London. He opened all the doors in one sitting (5 minutes while I was heating dinner up) and proceeded to give all the chocolates behind the doors to our lovely (and sweet toothed) helper. 

This November kids in his class have been talking about Christmas celebrations and many of them have advent calendars and Elves for their shelves. So the hints and conversation have popped up a few times this month. And that got me thinking. 

For a kid that doesn't eat chocolate and a family that does not own an elf I decided to come up with an enticing alternative. And here it is:

It's our kindness-calendar meets book-on-a-shelf (meets clean-this-house):

And a bit like pie, here are the Ingredients: 
- 25 books all individually wrapped and waiting
- a basket and a little calendar 
- many shelves and cupboards to provide hiding places
- loads of books/ toys/ clothes that have been outgrown - and many that haven't 
- Small excited child

- Starting tomorrow, every morning before school he crosses off the date on the mini calendar, and picks a wrapped package. 
- While he is at school I have to hide the package. And set up two clues on bits of paper and leave them with his post school snack.
- When he gets home he uses the clues to find the package and unwraps a brand new book.
- We save the book to read before bedtime. And then we hunt for a toy or book he has outgrown and willing to part with. This is harder than it sounds. We have purged a lot of stuff this year as part of the move. He still has a few books and toys he has outgrown but loves. I also want him to give away a few things that he still uses/ loves. I think he is ready for this lesson of giving/ sharing/ parting with things/ seeing the joy of another child.
- Said toy or book goes in a box for us to carry to India and give someone we know who can use it.

It's December tomorrow - books and life lessons for the Kid; free pass from writing for me. Wish us luck.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Today's 5

1. Crazy weather swings saw us all back in shorts and tshirts again today. Some reprieve from the awful and disheartening shopping trip of yesterday.

2. I am trying to avoid being badgered into making a life changing decision. It's not V or Kid making me choose but an outside party who seems to think everyone should have their e x a c t same life. It's not a decision I am willing to commit to at the moment and I'm trying hard to be diplomatic and defer the decision. Sorry I'm being cryptic but I know everyone is one or the other side of this fence and really I don't need anymore opinions at this point. I have to trust that my own is right for me.

3. Did something to my ankle when I walked last week. It's achy and I've stayed home for most of the day , sipping cups of tea and digesting digestive biscuits. A good nights sleep and regular service of Busy household will resume tomorrow.

4. Only 3 more weeks till school closes for the year. It's a packed 3 weeks though with school concerts and class parents participation etc all in the offing. 

5. Today is to be noted for posterity because after weeks of wobbly tooth this morning Kid's tooth finally fell out. While he was brushing and telling me how he didn't want me to yank it out like his friends had been. Gums feel weird. Most adorable note and cleaned tooth safely under the pillow. Excuse me while I go find out what the HK tooth fairy gives a 1st tooth. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Make me happy

Saturday. Grumpy. Earlier I couldn't find clothes for fat people. Now turns out my feet are fat too. Lady in shop laughed when I mentioned the size of my paddles. Said 'best have made can'. 

Unfortunately it's suddenly turned to winter. Turns out I turfed out all my winter clothes in the excitement of tropical Singapore. So no fat people clothes or shoes in my useless wardrobe. At least I own one coat for when it gets to freezing.

Meanwhile hobo lady look: tracks, t-shirts, jeans, pajama bottoms, random shawls, ridiculous socks and Birkenstocks. As per usual, only messier. Grumpy. It's the perfect face to match. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Five is a good number

It wasn't as I imagined it would be and that is mainly because I missed most of it. 

Five years ago today my brother, Nik, got married. I had Kid, who at just over 1year and 4months, was a creature of habit. I got to Delhi in plenty of time for the wedding and so thankfully I got to participate in the run up to the big day. Beside watching a wedding ceremony the great excitement was the gathering of family in the days before. All my beloved cousins, aunts and uncles, my Nani, mama's and maiji's, neices and nephews. Full house and an absolute riot!

The dancing baraat and noise and crowd of people was beyond Kids coping mechanism and I spent most of the evening comforting one tired and over excited and over whelmed child. I missed the jaimal. I missed most of the actual ceremony, making it to the mandap for about 20 minutes in the middle. Eventually Kid passed out from exhaustion in the hotel room ( where I left him with V) we had booked in the same place as the festivities and so I did manage to eat a late dinner with the beautiful bride and my brother and their closest friends. And as we sat there enjoying dinner and jokes and each other's company I remember thinking how lucky they were to be surrounded by so much goodwill. 

But what I remember most 5 years on, is not all of that early angst of missing out on most of their biggest moment. Instead it is the look on both their faces. The look of both love and friendship and joy in celebrating and sharing this moment with each other and being held in the hearts of all the people they hold dear there that evening. 

The milestone is not 5 years, Nik and P. It is every single day of navigating the world with a person you love more than life itself by your side. It was a great wedding as the photographs often remind us. What I wish for you though is many many years of a stupendously good marriage. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks (and it's not for turkey)

Kid had a Thanksgiving meal in school yesterday. Of course he has took (and ate) a back up bread and butter sandwich (as recommended by the teacher) in case a turkey and trimmings dinner didn't quite do it. Apparently mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce are 'gruesome'. Wierdo.

Things I am thankful for:
1. Handwritten stuff: I think my handwriting is pretty good (and most of the world disagrees with the 6 year old who just this week declared it 'awful'). I love calligraphy and looking at and trying my hand at new fonts and the like. I love giving and receiving handwritten notes/ letters/ cards. I don't keep them all but I certainly appreciate the words and their beauty both in meaning and aesthetically. 

2. Good food: I am thankful for the abundance and variety of it available to me each day. Both to cook with at home and the various cuisines I have access to in this not huge city. I am thankful that my greatest food lesson as I grow older has been the appreciation of quality over quantity.

3. My parents and Nik: My parents - for always being cheerful, even in the face of adversity and ill health. I most appreciate them for still (despite having been proven otherwise) firmly believing that I and Nik are the very best things to have happened to them and the world. Nothing better than cheerleader parents. Long may I appreciate them and all they do for us. And Nik, for despite having his moments, I know is always there for me, even though we have not lived in the same house for near on 15 years. I’m thankful he has kept my secrets and shared my childhood with all its stories. I'm thankful of his (usually) agreeable nature and a loyalty that inspires. Clearly I lucked out in the family deal. 

4. In no particular order: New books/ old books worth re-reading/ comfortable couches/ sunshine/ good coffee/ water views/ freedom/ childhood friends/ everyday friends/ dishwashers/ technology/ watercolor paintings/ family near and far.

5. Kid: I envy his teacher for seeing him grow each day (although I am glad of the break) for this is an amazing age and of course like my own parents before me, my child is the Centre of my Universe. My real joy each day comes from playing on the floor with him - Lego, trains, cars, puzzles, arts and crafts - and listening to him fathom the world bit by bit. From hilarious mispronounciations to solemn statements and laugh out loud fart jokes, this is an age I would gladly bottle up to cheer me up in my old age. Nothing beats a good cuddle (and I hope we never outgrow those) and all that gorgeousness. 

And, finally:

6. V: I don't need to say it but since I'm being all candid about how much I have to thankful for I can safely say that he is what I am m.o.s.t thankful for. The greatest gifts he has given me are of loving me more than I have ever loved myself and teaching me that in life it is both where you go and whom you travel with. And that in traveling together we are stronger and having more fun than we ever thought possible.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it. And even to those who don't - it seems in today's awful war-ing world that being thankful e v e r y d a y might yet be the only way to teach ourselves and our kids to be kinder, more gentle and be appreciative of what we have. I have an abundant life. I am very thankful. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Not sure if it is every year or alternate years but usually around this time of year there is a rumbling brouhaha over whether it's 'Christmas holidays' or merely 'holidays'. All over Facebook and in online forums people are complaining.

This year it was Starbucks in America deciding they would not spread the Christmas cheer - doing this by eschewing snowflakes, holly and the like from their red paper cups. Of course this 'outrage' was all over the Internet - with people caring deeply about their coffee cup not reflecting accurately their celebratory sentiments. 

Here in fabulous South East Asia we are equal opportunists. In Kids school (and in our social lives) both in Singapore and here in Hong Kong we celebrate Easter, Diwali, Eid and Hanukkah with enthusiasm and interest. This week it's Thanksgiving and of course soon after Christmas we will have Chinese New Year. A Christmas tree is to be lit soon and fairs and bazaars and IKEA are all bedecked with Christmassy wares and decoration. 

I'm of the belief that you don't need to be of a religion to celebrate it. And there is no better way to teach our children tolerance and appreciation than by celebrating as many occasions as we can. More than anything I like the idea that in this harsh world we have occasions to smile and celebrate and learn. 

It is the season to be jolly and I'm glad to be buying the odd cuppa from places not stepping on the political correctness bandwagon.

A: because he needs to (look) dash(ing). 

Santa and coffee go well together. Ho Ho Ho! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Apparently there is no waiting till after Thanksgving to get going in the Christmas spirit of decorating. 

I'm making quite a complicated Christmas tree this year. One that involves cardboard, cloth, paper, string, lights, photographs and other bits of decoration. At the moment it's all mainly in my head but in a dash around Causeway Bay today I came up with some of the cloth components, the lights and string. Kid and his dad printed off the pictures I needed over the weekend. But the more I think about my plan the more convoluted it becomes and I guess I shall have to take a mini step back and re-think it. 

Meanwhile Kid decided we hadn't painted in many months (entirely true) and so we painted up a few Christmas cards. 

And then when that got boring (very quickly) he moved on to a construction site. He is no Picasso but he so loves painting. I'm totally biased but all the warmth of that corner sun are well flooded in the painting.