Saturday, August 15, 2015

I am Indian

I can live anywhere. I can travel all over the globe. I can hold any passport. But my heart is always Indian. Love this:

Happy Independence Day, India

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

HK life: impressions and facts - 1

Tomorrow is a week and a half since we got to HK. Here are some snippets of what we've seen/ done/ feel, facts and impressions from this short time. 

1. It's green. I thought Singapore was green but my goodness HK beats that one hands down. Apparently, and I read this is a newspaper magazine this week, more than 80% of HK Island is covered in greenery. The reason this seems to have escaped my sharp eyes is that we have always taken a train from the airport to Central which is the crowded heart of this city. This time however we had moving scale baggage so the train was not an option. Also we weren't going to Central where the tall buildings stand in each other's shadow and any greenery is overshadowed by concrete. We were collected by a big SUV type car and drove the 55 minutes over bridges and hills. It helped that it was a bright sunny day with very little traffic. In musical words my brain was singing 'the hills are alive with the sound of music'; green verdant and hilly / my new impression of HK. So so green. 

2. We are staying in a service apartment, part of a larger complex with many residential towers and a huge sports complex. We are atop a hill and the views are lovely, both of the pools and greenery and the hills on all sides. The complex seems very self sufficient with its own supermarket and a shuttle bus service. Our apartment is decorated a bit bizarrely for my tastes with red upholstery, fake chandeliers and top hats lining a wall for decoration. But aesthetic sense aside it is a lovely 1 bedroom place with a galley kitchen and a seperate nice living and dining room. Enough storage and space for us to play/ read/ cook/ eat. And a full hotel service of cleaning and linens and tidying and washing up in our kitchen. Now if only someone would iron I would be a happy girl! 

3. The whole of last week was busy. All the mundane administrative tasks that come with a move needed to be tackled. To be fair I played and swam and read and grocery shopped and cooked with Kid while V took care of the many details. We met him everyday, to interview for ID documents, to open bank accounts, to organise our helpers hire from the Philipines and to get mobile phones. But essentially I was just signing documents and going to meetings he had already organised.

4. Talking of meetings it's certainly my impression that men tend to ignore women when their husband is around. More than once, but never as keenly as at the bank, questions about me were directed to V while I sat right in front of them. I was SAT RIGHT THERE. Is your wife a housewife? Is your wife going to have her own account? Is tie wife going to work? I mean it was cray cray....and I almost said something but didn't because my simmering anger would have come out as rage.

5. Disneyland. We went. again. We took the train which was convenient and quick and inexpensive. We got annual passes. We got there at opening time and it wasn't too crowded. We spent a fair few hours re-living last years visit. The train around the park was open unlike last time but such a disappointing slow ride with not much to see. It got hotter as the day dragged on and we abandoned the idea of the parade and left. We were glad to get back and have a dip in the pool. 

More tomorrow. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Packing day

In the words of my ex boss I am an excellent administrator. I love lists and work with speed and efficiency when the moment calls for it. But my basic sloth like tendencies (can I blame my 40s?!) have left me scrambling at the last minute for this move. 

I have lists and those lists have their own sub-lists but today was Day 1 of packing and really only 85% of my list was marked off. Anyway, I found that efficient hat this morning at 4am when a stress headache woke me. And by the time the inefficient packers arrived at 10am I was ready as can be. Suitcases packed, air shipment sorted and sea shipment culled ruthlessly so we can learn to live with less. 

The packers grew in number as the day wore on and what should have been a 2 day pack and a 1 day load has turned into a 1.5 day pack and load. So by tomorrow afternoon it should be done giving me more time to enjoy a leisurely afternoon tea (NOT). Instead we have handymen, electricians, cleaners, inventory guys and agents to deal with. 

Spent our last night in the apartment yesterday. Feeling a bit nostalgic. I love this house. Now safely ensconced in RT&Ps home, where hot showers/ food/ lots of chat & laughter are freely available. Last 5 days of this Singapore Adventure here we go! 

Million dollar question: where are we going? It's Hong Kong. Am I excited? Hell yeah! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Good morning, I'm 40 in 2015

I've woken up in the luxury of a hotel bed having arrived in Bangkok last night to spend 4 days celebrating with V, Kid, his Cousin (referred to in real life as 'brother') and his parents. A merry bunch of 4 adults and 2 kids. This is what Birthday week is about. I've been given some stupendous gifts by two friends and my sis in law last night so I'm well chuffed.

The last time I was here in the city properly I was 6 years old - we lived here from when I was teeny tiny till about 6 and I have some quite clear memories of places. I intend to find the building we lived in and see some other things and meet some people I've known my whole life. But that is not today. Today is about turning 40. Today is Wat Pho (to see the reclining Buddha which is what I remember clearest), some divine Thai food at Nahm and a massage. And I'm going electronic free from 9am - 9pm (post this post). I cannot think of a better way to celebrate turning the Big 4-0. As my cousin B would say, 'Happy to me'.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Starting early, starting well.

Just so you know, in the real world I'm hotly denying all knowledge or happening of my birthday next Wednesday. No answering the phone, replying to texts and whatsapp. Just head in the sand. Or a book.

But for the sake of this ageing blog I will do anything. And so tonight in an effort to begin the celebrations I and V have polished off delicious steaks with sides of creamed spinach and herbed fries at Cut by Wolfgang Puck. Followed by this beauty:

A chocolate molten cake with cream and ice cream on it. Trust me this picture does not show you how big this is. It's a small saucepan, like the size of a small child's head. And bitter and sweet. Divine. 

Starting tomorrow it's birthday week, people. I'm celebrating turning 40 only for blog fodder, not because it marks a decade. I'm so selfless (haha). 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Looking, Searching, Seeking

Singapore is a city of Expats. Many many come for 2 or 3 year contracts, 'hardship postings' (which they so ain't) to the 'unknown Orient', their far away sojourn softened by the large plush apartments, readily available help and paid for prime international schooling. Others come for the adventure, a chance to gad around  Asia on a dime and fall in love with clean, green, efficient-like-nobody-else Singapore. It has honest folk, tropical weather that allows for thundering cool downs and warm water pools, seafood galore and a friendly environment. They stay, for as long as they can, sometimes for far longer than they envisaged, making local friends, joining clubs and participating in the local ways of life. 

My friend L and her hubby have been here 18 years. They say that going back to America now would be like being expats in their own country, so much has its landscape changed since they first left. Even the yearly Target shopping trips and family vacations don't feel like a homecoming but a stopover for goodies. Singapore has become their home and their child, born here, identifies himself as Singaporean. 

I often meet new people here and one of the first questions to swap is how long we have been here and where we came from. 6 years, 8 years, 7.3 years, all with a sheen of deserved pride (and sweat!). I keep meeting people who are so pleased to have found their place, their home, their country. There is that sigh of relief, or an imperceptible look shared with their partner - an acknowledgment that this is home, they feel at entirely at ease, settled and secure. I sometimes wish I was that person. Or that there was such a place for me. Or that I could stop looking and be happy with what I am in. Actually that's inaccurate. I am happy where I am for the most part but I'm always interested in the new or the idea of new.  I can't look forward and see very clearly where the Kid or us will be in 10 years. I see flux, waves of the unknown and the oscillating ideas of change. I see adapting and adventures and new horizons. I can even honestly say I don't share Vs love of the UK and his desire to go back to Blighty. I don't know where we will end up but I'm loving all these stops on the way. I honestly now believe that at this time, in this age, my home is wherever V and Kid and I live. Whichever apartment, whichever city, whichever continent. Geography is wonderful. 

The time has come to move on from Singapore. We've been here 2.9 years. Shorter than we envisaged. And much as I love this place I readily admit I already had itchy feet when talk of a move began. In a month and a half we will be in a new city. And no, I won't tell you here or on Facebook or whatsapp which city, quite yet. Just suffice to say I'm brimming with excitement - and suffering through the stress that moves bring. I'm trying to be all zen and mainly making it look easy while inside I'm a cauldron of nerves. I'm at the airport as I write this, leaving in a jet plane, to go find an apartment. 5 days of estate agent wrangling should be quite enough. Wish me luck! 

P.S: Pictures of packing boxes in 2 weeks. And of course turning 40 tales, as that should be fun, drinking wine out of plastic glasses on the floor of an empty apartment. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

In a month

...I will be 40. Always 30 in 2005 but an added 40 in 2015. Gosh I feel like I should feel old. I look back at some of my earlier writing and I'm shocked by the childish nature of it, shocked by how many friends this blog has made me and shocked by how I've grown in maturity.

I'm processing all the things that are going on at the moment in a very busy life, making plans for the future and pondering the best ways to celebrate what is surely a milestone of sorts. And even though my body has recently boarded the shuttle bus for Old People-ville, my heart and mind are strangely walking, no, make that running in the opposite direction. I feel in control and as if the cliche of 'age is but a state of mind' might actually apply here. Isn't that weird? I am known for my curmudgeonly outlook, my realist views and a not so optimistic inclination but as I approach the 40s I am strangely filled with confidence and hope and joy and interest. How can the 40s beat what have been a wonderful decade of 30s? I can't wait to find out. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Tale of two cakes

The Balloons arrived. She had done a great job, listening to my brief, and produced 4 'minion clouds'. 

can't tell you how wonderful the party was. It went to schedule, all 38 kids that showed up were polite and seemed to have a great time. We played in the pool for an hour (3-4pm); or rather the kids played while our young High School student, a qualified lifeguard (I hired him for the hour) watched on and the mums and dad sat and chatted poolside. I had loads of pool inflatables and diving rings and fish for the Kids and baby ducks and floaties for the littlies in the small pool. 

Then everyone got out of the pool, changed and helped carry up the inflatables. 

We played two games; minion bowling (best game ever) and pin the pocket on the minion (bought off amazon). 

Please do not miss the minion duct tape marking the bowling lane! Best purchase ever.

Then it was time to eat but before I show you our laden table I must show you our cakes. Simple sheet cake with 'water and the beach' icing and crumble, topped with minions megablocks assembled by Kid. Super simple but looked fabulous. And tasted divine. Not a crumb remained from the party. 

We turned on Despicable me 2 for the kids to chill out to while they ate. Parents snacked on the Indian goodies I had catered. Then we cracked open the piƱata full of m&ms, mini Mars and kit kats, chocolate wafers and smartie rolls and distributed return presents and game prizes. Everyone left by 5.30pm, exactly on time. We tidied like crazy, vacuumed, mopped, put away food, took down decorations, chatted with our houseguest and my brother in law, got an overexcited and very tired Kid ready for bed. Then the exhaustion of not having been well and of being on the move all day hit me. I spent the next two days recovering, taking long naps and chilling out at home, eating left overs and reading. 

I can't tell you how wonderful the party was. Till next time.....

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Could I be more Minion?

More decorating this morning. Party is in 2 hours and I'm blogging as I await balloon and snack deliveries. Here's what's on:

Minions ready to be bowled over. They had a makeover last night with authentic silver paint for their goggles. The minion bowling track has been laid down with Minion duct tape - my favourite cheap find! 

Then we will play four corners where everyone dances in the centre till the music stops and a non watching referee calls out a corner and everyone in it is out. A slightly less violent and less cheat able combination version of musical chairs and freeze dance. Also we don't have anywhere near 45 chairs! These are the four corner signs:

And finally the table is getting a makeover. Being blue anyway I'm not covering it up with a table cloth. Glass is easy to clean of grubby fingerprints!

Till after the party, ciao! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Attention, Minions

Tomorrow Kid is celebrating turning SIX. He turns 6 only in July but since school breaks for the summer in a week he wants to celebrate with his pals before pretty much everyone is away for their vacations. 

So party prep is on in earnest. 45 kids have RSVP'd 'yes'. So an hour in the pool before they come home (yes, home, you heard that right. I had a function room booking FAIL!) with one parent (at least) each. And this is what awaits them:

Then a table whose main motif is:

Followed by 3 games, of which 1 is homemade bowling, recycled cola bottles with rajma to weight them down: 

I've not lost all my marbles much as it may seem so. The balloons are being delivered as are the snacks for the parents. 

Off to buy some pool toys and decorate the cooled cake! See ya, minions! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 busy weekends

We have had 3 weekends in a row away but all to places we have been, some more than once, so in my mind they don't count as holidays but trips.

Trip 1 was taking advantage of the long weekend and giving in to the fact that bil, sil and their cutie hadn't been to Kota Kinabalu. They were going anyway and we decided to tag along. A tense wait for a new passport and data transfer in the Singapore system and off we went to the exact same resort in KK, the Shangri-la Rasa Ria. The renovations of last time are complete and except for a few service issues it was even more marvellous than before. Jet skis, swims, beach walks, castle building, long meals and chats, naps, spa treatments - just the perfect getaway for 3 days. 

Trip 2: The next weekend we left on Sunday and took a few days off work/ school to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the in-laws. They have had a rough ride with their health in recent times and despite not being very well made the trip to come see us and then to mark the momentous day. The other bil and family flew in from their vacation in Japan and the Herd spent 3 glorious days in a big beautiful villa. Again it was days of eating, chatting, swimming and a photography sessions to mark the day. Simply wonderful - the best bit easily the long chatty meals - at the one on their anniversary they each told us their 5 favourite things about the other. For 2 people whose marriage was arranged with very little say and so young these were life affirming things and very touching to hear.

Trip 3 was just the 3 of us. Not a holiday for V but instead a mid week jaunt for work to Hong Kong. We hadn't been in ages and now that school is winding down we decided it wouldn't harm Kid to have a few days off. So off we went, and he and I entertained ourselves in the pouring rain with lunch at Din Tai Fung, a visit to dads office, a couple of pre-planned visits, walks in the rain and hot tub baths. Kid and I really relaxed although poor V was working away. We got back in time for a relaxing weekend at home before this weeks madness. 

In between all these trips we had a lunch and carnival day at the Club celebrating their 150 years. And a school art show that was more impressive than I imagined it would be. And an endless stream of houseguest to enjoy chats with. 

This will be the first weekend after 3 when we will stay home. It's a long weekend for us but because I am clearly not satisfied with just relaxing we are hosting a huge birthday party for Kid before school is out and all his friends have left for their summer vacations. So an hour of pool play followed by 3 games and food and a movie in our living room is the plan. Would you believe we have 45 kids and a parent each attending?! Saturday Madness I tell you. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Timing is everything

V and I have been so upset and shaken by the Nepal earthquake. The sheer guilt and thankfulness for him having followed his dream and come back safely to us while for so many it has been a fatal journey is currently overwhelming. It is the way of natural disasters that one looks instinctively for their own loved ones in the face of knowing that others who are not ours in the same sense are at risk / losing their lives/ livelihoods/ shelter. It is not without guilt though that I want to hold him and give thanks that he is alright all the while knowing that for so many families their loved one is not. And similarly he has spent the last 3 days tracking down friends he made who were preparing at the Base Camp and Camp 1 for ascents to the Peak, porters, guides and organisers who helped him on his way and friends who set off on other treks in the majestic Nepalese mountains. Only last night has everyone been accounted for, safe and sound.

I had a huge fight on a whatsapp group with a classmate from college. He first asked everyone to contribute to an NGO his wife runs (which is fine, I understand direct fundraising) but in addition thought it best to keep sending messages announcing how NASA had predicted an earthquake to hit India/ Nepal at 3pm/ 8pm, today/ tomorrow etc. Scare mongering at its very worst. Stay outside from 7.50 to 8.30, I'm sure a big earthquake is going to hit etc. This ability to predict things is blatantly untrue and just the perfect fodder for whatsapp groups. It made me crazy and I lost my cool while trying to not lose my cool (if you know what I mean).

On the other side though there has been an outpouring of love and thankfulness for V's safe return on FB, via email and text and whatsapp from friends and family around the globe. Warms the heart knowing we have a little world of our own that cares enough to ask/ check/ love. 

There is also the question of how does one help. How do you choose between disasters or needy causes? It is the subject of my years of fundraising - how do I get you to care about (ie donate to/ promote) my cause? I guess the knowledge that it could have been you had you stuck to the original plan is a powerful tool. While V does his part in helping Nepalese causes now so near and dear to him, I am this week contributing to a cause dear to me. My friend is living on £1 per day for food in a fundraising bid to raise awareness and money for Action Against Hunger. By day she works with vulnerable women and via this project she is living on a £1 per person food allowance in an attempt to see/ show how very little that is. And how so many women make that stretch to feed themselves and their children. She reminded me of school holidays and how children who would normally get a free and hot breakfast and lunch at school then have to eat at home putting untold pressure on their £1 per person budget. This leads to mothers subsisting on cups of many times brewed tea as replacements for entire meals or skipping meals to feed their children. My friend is an E14 hero and I hope some day to be back in that neck of woods and drinking a cup of tea with her. If you want to contribute to her cause please click on the link. Every £ counts:

To support the search for survivors and the delivery of relief to Nepal click on this link:

There isn't much more in life than our families, friends and these lives we hold so dear. It makes all other things seem so inconsequential. Kiss your spouse and hug your children, call your parents and email your friends. You are not alone and may you never be. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Bucket lists

So two Friday's ago Kid and I said goodbye to V and boarded a flight to Delhi to surprise my parents. An hour later V boarded another flight, to a long anticipated, much prepared for trip.

Just over a year and a half ago, to coincide with turning the big 4-0, V sprung it on us that it's long been his dream to climb to the Everest Base Camp. Well a year and a bit in the making he was off. He had trained and I had shopped for energy bars (amongst other essential supplies!) and he had heard and read stories of how tough yet exhilarating it was going to be. 

We had made an illustration to show us his route up and down, how many km's and hours each day. Kid was excited but I think it was/ is all theoretical to him. He doesn't understand distance or time in quite the same way yet but he was caught up in the excitement and bless his little heart he told everyone his dad was climbing Everest! 

In Delhi, the parents were suitably surprised and while it all started very well, we both promptly had a mild form of food poisoning. But we soldiered through with Smecta/ podophyllum/ Lacteol Forte. Met a few (the most important) people but not as many as I'd have liked.

We talked to V everyday on a local Nepalese number. It was clearly a tough slog despite the training and he sounded exhausted and exhilarated all at once. We got back the following Friday and V was still two days away from Base Camp, slogging it through the snow and beginning to sound disheartened that he might not make it thanks to the inclement weather. 

Sunday afternoon he finally made it. HE MADE IT TO EVEREST BASE CAMP! Called us briefly, his voice breathless with 50% oxygen and joyous with his accomplishment. Then began his descent - and finally on Wednesday night I went to meet him as he got off his flight from Kathmandu, mountain beard added and so many pounds lost. 

He spent the next 4 days exhausted, sleeping 12 hour stints, playing with his delighted son and eating all the things that he had abstained from while he trained. We've been looking at the incredible pictures and hearing the stories. It's truly an achievement and a serious bucket list item knocked off. 

Talking of bucket lists it would seem I am not inspired enough by my very fit Better Half! We went to watch the very very funny Russell Peters live in Singapore last night. Watching him live was on my (very sedentary) bucket list and he was every bit as funny as I expected. We had expensive but pretty bad seats, had to strain our necks to see him live (as opposed to on the giant screens). But we saw him live and he can really get the audience laughing so even the seats I was willing to forgive. It's been a busy time of year for us all. 

We've both crossed things off our lists this year and it would be fair to say V is an absolute WINNER in my eyes! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fish and rain

This year Easter is a bigger deal in Singapore than any year before. Almost like the Expat and local communities have suddenly got in stride at the same time for a little party. There are egg hunts and painting parties galore, exhibitions of painted eggs of all sizes in various spots. 

Spent the morning at the aquarium with Kid. A whisk through while it poured buckets outside. Surprisingly non-crowded for a Sunday morning.The aquarium is celebrating Easter in its own way. These large / giant eggs are sitting patiently in many tanks and Kid found this so amusing he asked to take a picture of each, on his own, with my phone. Here they are:

His favourite is the 4th one - 'the two sand sharks are trying to get under it and topple it over. That is so cute!'

LKY was laid to rest post some brilliant eulogies. I often feel like people should have a chance to hear their eulogies before their passing - it would be so cheering to leave life knowing how wonderful it had all been. It poured as his coffin was led through the streets. It didn't deter an adoring public from lining the streets to mark their respect. And the heavens clearly agreed it was a loss for why else would it rain torrentially. 

It was a day of many parts. It included a trip to the airport to collect friends off a long and tiring flight from London. Nothing like friends from old to cheer one up. Kid and his friend behaved like they had never been apart. The innocence of kids who have indeed forgotten each other but willed themselves to remember using pictures and stories from their parents arsenals of childhood tales. More later. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Time escapes us all

There is nothing like the experience of a bad plane journey to get me grumbling again. And so here I am.

But before I get to that its the week that Singapore's founding father, it's Titan, lost his battle with age and ill health. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew died last weekend and even in this anticipated death (he had deteriorated rapidly over the past few weeks) and the wonderful precision with which this city state is marking its loss there would be no accounting for this outpouring of love and gratitude that has emerged. We were in India but I've followed closely by newspaper/ television reports and the social media feeds the show of respect for this wonderful man, who took a tiny swamp land, and in defiance to a stronger Malaysia made it a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. This country has been my home for over two years and every day I am thankful for its security, it's cleanliness and diverse people. The lines to visit his body lying in State in Istana run 8-10 hours long and despite warnings to not join them people continue to do so. And while people wait in these long snaking lines it is others that provide water, umbrellas and food, urging them to continue, to continue on for this one last time, the paying of respect a small token of appreciation of how much he has done for this Nation State.

I've spent this afternoon at the closest community centre to us looking at a beautifully curated exhibition in rememberance and signed the condolence book. I've seen lovely people both old and young crying and nodding in agreement over this loss, telling stories of their kampongs, the opportunities given them in their youth, the education afforded every citizen, the rousing speeches to work hard and honestly given by this man. I've read tributes and followed his sons speech as he held back his private emotions in grieving for his father vs. the Father of this nation. I am moved by this show of emotion, to say the least. No one shall ever be able to say this is a cold emotionless country without drawing ire. The funeral is tomorrow and we shall all wear black to show our respect. It's the very least we can do.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The end table 2014

Not a year I've particularly loved or liked. You've heard all my moans and grumpy outbursts with such patience that I must thank you. 

Let's do a quick roundup:
1. Health - sucked all round. From parents to extended family, all around the globe we are giving thanks for doctors and nurses keeping us safe and returning us to health. 

2. Singapore - grown on me. I like it more than the previous year. Combination of familiarity with what's where and deciding to be in charge of my own joy. Building my little bubble and letting all the blabber and insensitivity bounce right off it.

3. Kid - Bringer of untold joy, this little one hit the half decade mark and started Big School with aplomb this year. He is growing in confidence, knowledge, love and laughter each day. He is the star of the show that is our life and the laughter of our souls! 

4. Books - Another year of avoiding the Kindle and going for paper. More reading than I envisaged doing and a far wider variety / selection of genres. I've come to enjoy occasionally sharing what I read  with my FB friends and it always brings forth some great suggestions and discussions. As I recently read, Books turn Muggles into Wizards. To many more words and worlds to escape into.

5. Friends - V and I reconnected with Kindergarten friends, met college friends after near on 2 decades, had a wonderful slew of house guests and met some of our dearest London friends - all in this friend filled year. From coffee in Singapore to brunch in a Mumbai home, from introducing our children (aren't we the children?) to catching up in a short Mumbai bistro evening, from brilliant Diwali parties to surprise new Singapore expats, it's been a beautiful year of renewal. Of showing me that technology is to be embraced somewhat and that the rewards for extending ones hand in friendship can bring hugs and great peace.

6. State of the world - Very poor. We are fighting everything from the environment to each other. The Sanctity for Life is a steadily diminishing commodity. I cry for the mothers who lost their children to violence, I cry for the earth whose pain is evident in natural disasters and I cry for us as a people unable to see beyond our own backyards. I pray in 2015 for a bit more gentleness, every gesture to be measured by what it means to someone's joy rather than a selfish interest. I hope to pay my own good life forward every single day, in smiles, hugs, meals, kindness.

On balance 2014 was a year that opened my eyes yet wider and showed me the circle of life - from pain and adversity on the one hand to how a hug or a call or a small kindness can spread the love and bring hope, give solace.

Goodnight, 2014! To you and yours, from me and mine, a wonderful 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


It's been a festive few days. We celebrated Christmas, our anniversary and the renewal of old friendships over 4 beautiful Bangalore days. The traffic was not beautiful but all the gorgeous breeze and cool temperature, the friendliness and smiles made it a wonderful mini break. Here are a few festive pictures from our home in Singapore (prep for Santa to arrive), various places in our travels and our own DIY efforts to be celebratory.

Our main tree in Singapore/ my FB greeting (with Kid not cut out). This is year 5 of book trees. This is the biggest and best so far.

Brownie with meringue snowman at the Ritz Carlton in Bangalore. Cute and tasty is a winning combination.

Lovely little puppet display at the Bangalore airport. And for a change well and interestingly sign marked.

Kids Santa's stocking. All 3 cousins got the same this year (with instructions they are to be reused for many a year to come). Santa found us in Bangalore and left 11 little presents in the stocking.

Gingerbread display at the Ritz Carlton lobby. Kid says 'I have a Lego City, you can have a gingerbread city mama'. This picture does not do it justice.

Chocolate chip muffins baked this morning here in Mumbai - clearly our celebration continues. More cousins and more gup-shup.

Signage at our balcony window in Singapore so Santa can find his way. The bottom has this: Kids name (who has been a very good boy)

And finally here is our DIY tree in Sjngapore. Visual confirmation via picture text that Santa did indeed find our house, follow our sign and leave our presents under the tree. Someone can't wait to go back home in a few days!

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Marrying a Fine Man

It was a cold winters night. Morning hadn't yet broken. Despite all the advice of getting a good nights rest to look 'fresh' on her wedding day the Bride couldn't sleep. She tossed and turned, nervous and excited in equal measure.

At 4.30am she gave up. She crept into the dark living room and called her very Best Friend. Come, quick, what am I doing? Sleep not yet complete she assured the Bride she would be there in no time at all.

They weren't real doubts. She knew him for near on a decade at this point. But it was a life changing moment, a joining with no return, a shift into adulthood more serious than the drinking games, the parties and grown up jobs and clothes. She sat on her bed, waiting.

In no time at all the Best Friend was there, having careened through town in darkness, her outfit for the day neatly pressed on a hanger. And there they sat, on a childhood bed, and laughed away an unanticipated nervousness. The friends' mere presence, there there to hold hands and listen to her gibberish made all the tension slip away.

Morning soon arrived. The Bride and Groom stood under a flower laden tree, surrounded by a hundred of their closest family and friends and were soon declared married by registered decree. A bright crisp Christmas morning made merrier by all the love and sunshine surrounding them.

Thirteen years on I find myself reminiscing about that day. Here I am still married to that Fine Man. Each day an adventure, a perfect fit through the trials and tribulations of life, the gentle eyes and smile that still make my heart flutter. I wouldn't change a thing. Heady heady days. 

Monday, December 22, 2014


Day 2 of the break and the luxury is not letting up. A lazy morning around the house - including a hearty breakfast of hot toasted slices of Flurrys Masala bread - my dad-in-law arrived from Calcutta yesterday - and a few rasogulla's (also courtesy Kolkata). 

After much deliberation and many voting rounds we headed for Dum Pukht at the ITC Maratha near the airport. Our normal go to fancy Indian food is Peshawari (in the same hotel). More curries and a smashing kakori and biryani were promised.

We weren't disappointed. The kakori was delightful and a lotus seed and root seekh was the surprise great appetiser. I'm not a fan of biryani (or any pulao) so stuck to roomali (which turned out to be too dry and thick) and shared too many mains (aloo dum was the surprise winner). The flavours of everything were more complex and it was a far richer meal than Peshwari. I'd go back to Peshawari in a heartbeat. 

The decor was interesting. Like the food, more layers, more complex and far more ornate than the earthier tones of Peshawari. 

Sated beyond any nutritional boundary we headed home where 80% of the household found themselves horizontal spaces to digest food comas. I entertained the 3 kids while trying very hard not to nod off sitting up! Eventually I gave up any idea of rest/ sleep and read while the kids played. 

In the evening the 3 sisters in law ventured out. First a wander through the insipid, overpriced Marks and Spencer. Then a walk through Bandra to admire the twinkling Christmas lights and enjoy the breeze. A challenge to find walkable sidewalks in the crazy traffic but we managed and ended up at Fab India. Wandered through the rich aisles of silk and cotton and leather and wood. Since I had already shopped there last month I had nothing left to buy and instead bought all my masalas and mosquito repellent. I leave you with pictures of a colour extravaganza.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Li'l Flea Market

In Mumbai for winter break. Day 1 has been a leisurely 'figure it out as we go' sort of day. 8 adults and 3 children mean there are a lot of whims and fancies and palates to be catered for. 

A 5am wander around the house in pitch darkeness did not convince Kid that it was night. His tummy demanded a Singapore breakfast - so we have literally been up since the crack of dawn. A morning of playing shops, noughts & crosses, drawing, running, animal and vehicle counter waterfalls, trains, impromptu Hindi lesson and word games to entertain 2 out of 3 kids. A lunch of pizza and milkshakes at the round the corner Cafe Mangii (a name associated only with unwell dogs I fear but thankfully tasty food).

Then kids and fathers went home while my sis in law T and I wandered over to the Bandra Reclamation for the L'il Flea Market. We chanced upon the advert in the paper this morning and went for a lark, intending to gaze and not buy.

Not quite a brickwork Dilli Haat of artisans, this little pop up flea was on an uneven ground covered in white cloth and filled to the gills with posh arty organic shops. Rs.100 got us a stamp on the hand and the right to enter. I didn't have much hope with this money making beginning - after all they expected me to spend money inside and I assumed that the tables were paid for by the shops rather than the customers. I was however pleasantly surprised both by the variety and quality of things available. Small, home grown but designed and thought through offerings to appeal to a wide market. From kids clothes to shoes, funky crafts, cushions, artworks and clothing, there was a l'il something for everyone. Most store owners were friendly and had put in a lot of thought to their displays. They weren't the artists but the people sourcing them and yet there was a level of passion in telling someone else's craft story that was impressive. There was only partial cover along some lanes from the searing heat - peach and blue lengths of clothe. Added bunting and fluttering lanterns, painted tokris and ribboned circles made it look craftsy and cool - casually thrown together to effect a  soft and welcoming look in a sharp and clear day. There was also a food section complete with fluttering curtains, old style lamps, makeshift tables, benches and floor mats. 

So here is a glimpse of the few hours we spent, cold coffee (me) and lemongrass tea (she) in hand and making impulse purchases.

Ribboned circles at the entry. And half recycled tyres made into little kids see saws.

All paper goods - boxes and punch out figurines. Simple, colourful, beautiful and user friendly.

Posters galore

The only (and very inviting) shade - simple cloth lengths stitched together as makeshift awning.

Tokris to match the awnings.

I fell in love with the fabric of that blue shirt. Scooters! Just adorable. Sadly not my size!

This was my favourite store. This lady Kasmira Rao-Nadndi runs Folkloric - Old tales, new language - and works with traditionalist artisans and craftspeople to bring traditional design and old craft methods into the modern home with an update or twist. Each piece has a story and a royalty that goes back to the artist. I bought the birds on a wire rectangular cushion to sit on the chair in my room. I'll take a picture when I go back.

I also bought a copper bracelet from a store called 'Indrika' that uses recycled materials to create pieces of Jewelry and fabricate some lovely clothes. The bracket looks like a giant nail twisted into a shape that circles a wrist. Unusual and inexpensive and ticks the Eco warrior box.

After a short break to cool down and recompose ourselves I joined T, my MIL, S (the benchmark Sil) and her daughter R on an hours journey to Phoenix Mall to watch PK. I didn't have high hopes when I saw the opening bit of spaceships. It turned out to be a movie that commented on the juxtaposition of the hope and superstition that religion offer the human race. It was sharp and well scripted and Aamir Khan outdid himself in his role as an alien. It didn't offend anyone and used humour to cast its net wide and deep. I would highly recommend it. Beware however of grimacing when you see Anushka Sharma's freshly botox'd pout and very bad wig! 

All in all a fabulous first day of the holidays. Let's see what tomorrow brings.