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.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Black and white and red all over

As I stood at the condo gate at stupid o'clock (6.50am to be precise) this morning I was only half paying attention to the Kid who was excitedly telling me all about his concert this afternoon. I smiled, nodded enthusiastically, kissed him, hugged him and promised to be at school, his personal cheerleader, brownies in hand, by 1pm. But really, inside I was half asleep. 

He got on the bus and as I waited for it to pull away I noticed how lovely the light was. I took this picture to remind myself of these early mornings. How we have changed from a family of stragglers at 7.45am to an efficient buzzing household at 6am. This is what Big School is all about: we pay them a hefty fee and they teach us a hefty lesson. Early to bed early to rise? An early start is an enthusiastic start. One can accomplish so much at the crack of dawn. And various others adages that escape my sleep deprived mind. 

As he completes 4 months at Big School and approaches his last week before a 3 week winter break I find I am the most pleased. Only 1 more week of classes for 2014. This has been the term of getting used to this new early routine. And as beautiful as this old Singapore Black and White House opposite our condo gate is I am most thankful for the break from seeing it at unearthly o'clock five days a week.

Lots of lie-ns for mum = happy holidays!!

Written on Friday (12th) and posted a day late!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wise and wine

Or maybe that should be 'wise with wine'

In the past few months I've been attending the occasional lovely little art talks with a bunch of people from our condo (plus friends). Run by the very passionate and talented Claire Kwiatkowski each talk in the series 'Picture this' talks about an artist and a specific piece of art. A few months ago we went to one on Monet and his 'Impression, Sunrise'. It was such a interesting talk, a glimpse into the birth of Impressionism but also Monets' ideas and influences as well as the technological advancements (tubes of paint) that allowed for such a new style to be developed. 

This past Wednesday we went for this, Vincent Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'. Once again Claire held fort and talked not of his perceived madness (the ear cutting etc) but instead of his expansive knowledge and verbose letters to his brother. He moved from place to place over his short life and his work influenced both by his surroundings/ other Masters but also (unwittingly) by his mental imbalance (epilepsy of a kind). She showed us his personality reflected in the steady march of his works from mastering techniques in other mediums before finally picking up a paintbrush and oils at the ripe old age of 30. It was an impressive talk and it made me come home and want to dig up my book of his works and my memories of the museum visit to see just his works. 

Yes that is a bowl of soup by the little hand out! A delicious bowl of carrot and orange soup. You see, the talks are held in various venues and are either coffee morning talks or dinner talks. This was in the same venue we went to last time, a little restaurant in the business district here in Singapore, called SPRMRKT. This is a lovely (if cosy) venue that shuts its doors to the public and lays out 2 long tables (about 25 people) and has a 2 or 3 course menu to choose from - a veg and non veg main option. Also the option of wine. So talk followed by long chatty dinner. On a weekday. Lovely! 

Can't wait for next years 'Picture This' series. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

Turns out that Singapore is full of Americans and they all live in my condo. This is not news to me as we have attended two well attended parades in our condo the past few years. The change has been that now that my Kid studies at an American School we are surrounded by the celebrations of their festivals in addition to their nod to ours. 

In past years we have gone to the parade and tricked/ treated around the condo but Kid was younger and dinner bath and bedtime got in the way of any serious wandering. 

This year however we've taken it up a notch. He had a pumpkin patch visit in school last week and a class Halloween Party at School today. He took his Batman costume (grey tshirt, black tracks, Cape and mask - the latter two borrowed) to school and apparently had a great time doing crafting activities and eating marshmallows. 

Home and a quick snack and costume change (now a train engineer) later we walked to another halloween party in our condo. Then to the poolside for the parade - two circles of the pool. Then off to trick and treat at the various people that signed up to open their apartments up. V got home in time to join forces with Kids and parents while I headed home to open doors and greet the enthusiastic trick and treaters. 

Kid and I talked about decorating a few weeks ago but I left everything to the last two days. I googled and trolled Pinterest for ideas of what both of us could do together. And this is the result:

* I cut out the BOO sign and Kid painted it. 
* The 3 pumpkin tea light holders cost me $6.
* I had black crepe paper and cut out the bats using a neat trick I found on Pinterest. Took me 10 minutes total. 
* The spiders web you see just inside the door - from a $2 packet. We decorated it with spiders made out of pipe cleaners (made a few weeks ago as part of a rainy afternoon activity)
* The pumpkins which look like lanterns are a failed experiment to make pumpkins. I used plain coloured paper instead of card so they didn't retain their shape. Took 30 minutes to cut the strips of paper and another 30 to assemble all 8 pumpkins. 

These were our treats:

* I own the basket. I lined it with a scrap of orange cloth from the linen cupboard. I bought it for a reason but it escapes me now. The sweets were Oreo cookies, smarties, M&Ms and raisins. 
* Bought 90 colouring pens for $6 and asked each kid to choose 2. 
* The eyeballs which have single handedly made me the Coolest Mom are styrofoam balls ($10 for 30), felt tip markers and 20 minutes while watching the news and voila! These were the most popular treat and everyone wanted one. We ran out pretty quick.

Kid had a great time even though exhaustion and hunger got the better of him a few times. Once fed he stayed home and greeted everyone with the most cheerful 'Happy Halloween to you' and sang 'trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat' on behalf of all visiting kids. Loved being the guy handing out the treats and made up rules like 'you must choose two sweets and two pens each'. 

Now he has gone to sleep and we are out to dinner. Happy Halloween people! 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

No band aids this time

When do we become the parents of our parents? It's a thin and impossible line to see. You see all this time I have been returning to my parents home and letting down my own health guard, letting them nurse me to good health and recover from colds coughs and the obligatory fever every time I visit. It seems the tables have turned, over the years imperceptibly but then this year with a Big Bang.

In the last 6 or so months it would seem like all the slightly older and sometimes still fairly young people in our lives are undergoing medical travails. From breathing issues to heart stents, from broken bones to multiple Myelomas, from heart panics to detached retinas, from high blood pressure to cataracts, from miscarriages to low spirits and memory loss - it's all going on in this family.

And through it all we are trying to do our research about treatment options, helping with logistics, planning trips to visit, sending messages of strength, waiting for updates, including them in our prayers, crossing our fingers, making silent bargains for an exchange of good health and bad and trying to keep spirits up long distance. How many sighs of relief I have breathed each morning, waking up to news of a procedure gone well; wishing my uncle all the strength he can muster, hoping my mum-in-law stays positive through a prolonged treatment, keeping up the spirits of beloveds in the face of loss, and then being the brave face for my mum's painful retina re-attachment done under local anaesthetic.

Upcoming school Fall Break was to be spent between Delhi and Mumbai, celebrating diwali with families. A turn of events yesterday has seen my mum admitted to a Cardiac Unit for chest pain. She's had a slew of tests, an angiogram and now a stent put in to her arteries. I've sat here chewing my nails for 36 hours now, all the while using my calm voice for her (and my own benefit). I refuse to panic. She will be just fine and I have changed my tickets to go to them earlier. 

I'm acutely aware, like never before, that age is catching up with us. And that this is the case with most families, a time when we turn older and the decisions of our youth finally appear in the sheet of our health. There is very little dignity in old age - and all these people I love dearly are holding on with all their might. I don't have a time machine or any band aids quicken the healing process. I do however have ears to listen with, a shoulder to cry on and hands to hold on to. Hold my hand won't you, while I hold my mums hand? Virtual good health vibes and prayers - they all help - and I'm accepting it all. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A word on Motherhood

You may have noticed that this is not a mothers blog in any way.  But I feel compelled to write this down. Mark it down to mid life angst - this will probably be one of a handful of posts on the state of parenting in our household.

For many many years I was asked the question 'why don't you have kids?'. And yes it was often asked subtly (not always though) or with my (purported) interests at heart (because naturally EVERY woman wants to be a mother. Not). But it was also asked with malice and one up-man-ship in mind (I have kids and they have made my life SO much better. Whatever, say I). I learnt to swat away the question, deftly and without pain to either party. I didn't want kids up to a certain point and no one was going to plan my life beside me.

And then five years ago I had a child. And yes he is Magic. M.A.G.I.C. The cherry on my already Sundae of a life. And yes he is one of only 5 people I would jump off an actual cliff for (really, and not just in a hypothetical situation). He and V are mine and mine. We live in our own little bubble for the most part. I love this situation, with no reservations, regrets or wants. It fits me and I fit it.

Meanwhile the question hasn't gone away, merely morphed like an alien looking for a new way invade the savvy humans. Now it's 'why don't you have a second child?'. This is not usually asked with any of the subtlety of the pre-child years. It's usually a direct question from people who have two or more kids. It assumes that because I had one I can naturally have another and therefore it is just me stopping this from happening. Never mind that there may be 300 other factors like health or age or god forbid not wanting to have another child. It's not always one up-man-ship (although it is sometimes), it's sometimes (intentionally) cruel (although they have no clue about my situation one way or another). It's often as if they have found the secret of siblings (whether to play with each other or be there for each other after the parents are long gone) and think everyone should be in the same club. It's not everyone but it's enough that I notice. It's often unasked but always implied in polite dribs. 

I wouldn't mind the question were it from a well meaning but non pitying place. Or a less passive aggressive place where your second kid is not the win of a race. Good for you. You wanted 3 kids or 7 kids and you got them. Seriously I am pleased for you. Whether or not I can have or want a second child or an eight child is entirely irrelevant to your existence. 

Will he be lonely when we are dead and gone? Sure he will. But grief is a lonely situation anyway. Also the state of siblings is not always utopian. You can hope and work for your kids to get along but there is no guarantee they won't fight or ignore each other as adults (far more common to have adult squabbles over inheritance or just not get along than one would think). And I've seen plenty of well balanced and wonderful single children. So that argument doesn't hold any merit. And yes I have a sibling and I know what it's like to have shared history and blood with only one other person. We have a great relationship and he is one of the 5 I'd jump of that cliff for. I'm one the sets that do get along. But I'm aware it isn't so for all others. Also this is not the reason I'm not having more kids. What my reasons are are entirely mine. 

I have strong opinions (you know this) and I'm the queen of telling it straight (you know this too). But I've tempered these and toned down my speak aloud-ness of responses. I instead find other ways to vent my frustration. Words on a page like this work for me. As do cryptic WhatsApp status messages. 

In closing, my son is an only child. This may or may not change; I am approaching my dwindling fertility 40s rapidly and there are other circumstances that govern all decision making. Decisions and lives that you know nothing about and are not yours to comment on. I love that he is my sole focus. I'm not clamouring for more kids. He is what I need and have and want. I'm not judging people with more kids and I wish they would stop judging me. So don't use your passive aggressive shit on me world. I ain't going to be riled up by it anymore. 

Friday, September 19, 2014


So I was trying to change the password to another gmail account and changed this (Blogger)one by mistake. Then got confused about what it was and couldn't get back in. 

And of course the second it was lost about 345 different possible topics to post on appeared. I've written some of them as notes and hopefully in the next few days I'll post them. 

Wonder if there is anyone still out there waiting for my pearls of wisdom to appear?! Hahaha. 

I'm back. 

Monday, July 14, 2014


I've just returned, a little tipsy, from a steak dinner with V. There is apparently no other window of opportunity for us to go and mourn/ celebrate my turning Old for many a month to come. 

I read an article from the New York Times about turning 40 recently and while the woman seemed to be succinctly putting down my thoughts I found one particularly catching. 

It was the one that said that we are 95 percent the same as everybody else and only 5 percent unique. I've been having this thought for over a year now and it's got me depressed to say the least. I've always thought of myself, of us, as more unique than just 5pc. I mean 5 pc, what is that, nothing right?! A year or so ago I realised we were all just ordinary, human and misguided and not unique at all as I had imagined I was heartbroken. This thought made me so so sad and was my thought of rumination for many an evening over this past year. I didn't come to any fine conclusions or positions to refute this. But as a coping with my grief method I think I internalised this pain of ordinariness and moved on. 

Tomorrow I'll wake up to a busy but oh so ordinary day. I don't know what I can do or what anyone could say to convince me that that 5percent of uniqueness is enough to live a full and happy life. I'm struggling with the ordinariness of me as a person - I'll be the first to admit it - but have not the slightest of clue as to what I can take this final year of my 30s and do with it. 

I'll have to ruminate some more over something chocolate. Wish me, won't you?! 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Five - the birthday fun continued

Unlike last years extravaganza I decided a simpler and far more inexpensive party was called for. Last year my two biggest costs were party invitations and birthday cake. This year I did away with physical party invitations and used the RedStamp App to make and email the invitation. I used this picture that the Kid had taken using my phone at the aquarium, sometime in June:

It was a simple and sweet and most importantly FREE invitation sent out by email to the very short list of mums whose kids were invited.

Then came the cake. Kid has a school friend that lives in our condominium. While the boys are very good friends his mum and I have also become firm friends and spend many a play date or poolside or playground time trying to get the kids of expend their boundless energy. She is a great baker - I don't have the patience and the tools to bake much more than an occasional banana loaf - and offered to bake and decorate with me. So we spent a morning at hers decorating (she baked it at 6am!). 

A few weeks ago, when asked what he would like, Kid had said he wanted a minion lego pirate cake. Or a Thomas train again. Explained that it was a pool party and that an ocean theme with the Octonauts might be fun. He totally went for it. He had a few figurines and we borrowed some from another friend. Dettol and detergent soaked to get any grub off. Then we opened bags of Smarties and M&M's and picked out the blue and green ones (different brands different size and shade). He helped in all these activities from seperating out smarties to soaking the figurines and scrubbing them with a brush. Also over the summer he and I built the little aquarium from a cardboard box, pipe cleaners, foam board and string. Instead of throwing it away after the many hours of pretend play that it got we saved it and used it on the party table (previous post).

Here's the making of this cake. 

The cake was delicious and not a single crumb was left.

My friend also made the piñata. She did them for both her kids and decided she was going to make one for Kid. So she made this amazing piñata and we filled it with rubber duckies/ coloured pencils/ erasers and small slinkies. 

Bottom line:
1. Invitations: free (time effort and electricity were used)
2. Cake: free (I will take my friend out for a drink sometime)
3. Piñata: $10 (all materials for outer shell were already in the crafts drawer and I spent $10 on the little toys inside)
4. Pool and function room: free (refundable deposit of $100 to insure against damage - already refunded)
5. Food: pizzas ($300 for 15 very large pizzas and $50 for all the rest of the food)
6. Decorations: kwazii cat pin the tail and the box with the cat to pelt with water balloons (free materials + $4 for water balloons); $25 for the baskets on the table and all those glasses plates and spoons. 
7. Good time had by all: like the ad says, priceless. The party was full of fun and energy and laughter. There was no better way to celebrate. 

And then on Sunday the 6th of July 2014, his actual birthday, my little boy woke up for another day of celebration. And I've been told repeatedly since then that apparently being FIVE is awesome! 

Wish my boy a year of awesomeness, won't you?! 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Whoa! He's Five.

One day you are in hospital about to give birth to a much anticipated child. The next, you wake up and he is FIVE! It all seems like the blink of an eye, but this morning my little baby woke up a Five year old Boy. Half a decade young. 

We had a great little party yesterday, far less stress and work than last year. I'm getting smarter at getting organised and this year I just didn't want the huge wedding-ness of last year. 

I would give you the verbal full on run down in one shot but I'm afraid you'd be comatose by the end so instead let me give you the back story and a sequence of events and the food. 

The plan was to have 10 kids and a pool party. The list expanded to include a few others I hadn't thought of and so that number went up to 14. The tropical weather put paid to the idea of doing everything informally by the pool. We woke up to heavy rain so called the management office and asked for the function room. Luckily it was available so we hastily set it up. 

Sequence of events (not like I imagined but as they turned out):
10: kids arrive and they all put a paw to canvas (activity plus return present).

10.15: pin the patch on Kwazii.

This is a pin the patch game. The idea taken from Pinterest and made one evening last week. I cut out 15 patches and Kid spent an afternoon colouring each one. I popped a little peel-able tack behind each and then at the party when blindfolded the tack was peeled and the patch applied.

10.30: Sponge bucket game: two teams / 4 buckets/ getting the water from one bucket to the other using the sponge. Super fun! 

10.40: all headed to the pool. I hung around for the most part but went back to the function room at 11.20 to set up the food. 

11.40: 14 hungry kids, dry and starving from all that pool fooling around, had this to eat: 

That's 'Sea cucumbers' (cucumbers), 'fishies' (fish crackers), 'sand'wiches (buns with butter and cheese), 'Beach Balls' (apples and oranges), 'Sea mud Squares' (brownies), 'Deep Sea' Jello and 'Take a dip (tortilla chips and salsa). 

This followed by pizza and then this amazing jellyfish piñata my friend made:

Then it was cake (another post) followed by the fun game: water balloons

Forgot to say, this is Kwazii cat from the Octonauts - ties loosely to the underwater theme. I was going for. The other side of the box says 'Shiver me whiskers!!'. I made this between his bus leaving at 8.30am and 9.30am on Friday (when I had to leave to go help bake the cake). On the day we used it for the kids to stand in and take pictures and then the kids pelted it with water balloons. It's more rudimentary than the picture looks but it worked a treat. It was sopping wet and disintegrated by the end but the kids loved it! 

12.45: get a goody bag and pop in the canvas handprint and say bye bye thanks for coming to my party! This is the fronts of the bags - cut out octopus/ pufferfish/ seahorse/ dolphin, all coloured by Kid and his Brother P last Sunday. Then stuck on the bags and googly eyes added on. Small note of thanks included in the bag with two tiny packs of M&M's and a vehicle shaped ceramic money box. 

The backs of the bags were decorated with foam stickers. 

Clear up and then home were we all collapsed in small heaps to recover. Kid and his brother built some Lego while I tried to sort out the various bags and bits and bobs that had come back from the party. 

It's the 6th today and he is FIVE today. We are having a family day with visiting grandparents, V's brother, his wife and my nephew (said brother P) and a friend visiting from London. We are off to have a swim and lunch and then follow a few birthday rituals like cake and presents. Laters! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mid holiday round up

Langkawi is little. And we are on a very lazy break in a very lovely resort. Our days are made up of leisurely meals, beach strolls, swimming, water activities like jet skiing and kayaking, beach footie, cheeky monkey watching, little excursions into town for the cable car, the majestic mangroves, ocean speedboat trips and finally giant bubble jacuzzi baths for the two kids.

We, all 4 adults and 2 kids, have become experts at these vacations. All the adults get some down time/ time to pursue activities they are keen on whether it's a book and a beachside hammock or a trek to gaze at birds. And the remaining adults then juggle the activities to keep the kids occupied. It's works well now, this tag team parenting. And to be fair the boys are so perfectly matched that they keep each other entertained and rarely squabble. 

It's a relaxing time. We are all windswept and thoroughly in love with this little island. The food is fabulous and the people so very friendly. Each evening the kids fall asleep in one of the rooms and with interconnecting rooms we sit in the other, gaze out to sea and enjoy the sunset with glasses of proseco and rounds of Uno beside the variations of 'what would you do/ be/ see/ travel if .....?' which is my favourite chatting game. 

We've had the odd 10 minute storm with billowing sand and pouring rain but all that has done has cool the temperature a bit. All in all it's been relaxing and we still have days to go, lucky us! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014


The motley crew of 4 adults and 2 children have arrived in Langkawi. An early morning start and an hour and 10 minute flight later we are finally on our holiday!

A small and efficient airport; we landed and 15 minutes later are now in a taxi on our way to the hotel. A lot of fun is expected. And frankly I can't wait! 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

T(r)opical - 1 - S.E.A

I keep losing steam with this blog. I'm always trying to start up a new series to keep me writing. (Yes I have lots to add in my lunches series, thanks for reminding me. Not)

Anyway, new series. Little snippets of stuff I do with Kid here in Singers.

So on Saturday we went to the Aquarium. The S.E.A to be precise. It's an incredible aquarium as aquariums go, and I've been to a few. This is a relatively new aquarium having opened in November 2012, just after we arrived.

When we first got here in 2012 I took him to see the aquarium as part of a month long 'getting-to-know-Singapore' plan that I cooked up. And on our first visit it seemed like the price for an annual card made more sense than an individual ticket. I certainly had plans of coming back. He got in free as he was just 3. So I bought an annual membership for myself without even going inside. 

It was a decision I have not regretted. He and I both LOVED the aquarium, with its big and varied displays. Anytime he had a weekday holiday or we had guests we would take the opportunity to show them our favourite aquarium. We more than used the value of that card by about 5 times last year. 

Then in November, when it was time for renewal, they announced that due to an overwhelming response they were re-working the scheme and membership was now closed. We used it one last time and then just waited to hear about new memberships.

Two weeks ago they sent out a postcard and an email to all existing/ recently expired members that the new membership was open! 

So this Saturday Kid and I went right back to get our new memberships (he gets one now that he is 4) and spent a wonderful morning at the aquarium. 

Inspite of huge crowds it's a welcoming space and it's lovely to watch little children squealing with delight as te giant octopus crawls across its window or the dolphins do underwater flips. The main attraction are the huge circular tanks and the giant picture window open ocean tank, at which we just sit and have our snack while staring at the many 
mesmerising fish on display.

We are using the time to walk, read and talk about the different fish and trying to play memory games with their names, but mostly we are just oooh-ing and aaah-ing at the magnificence of it all. 

A newfound love for a cartoon show called the Octonauts made this trip even more interesting for Kid. He seems to think he knows everything about fish, much like those underwater explorers. It's a wonderful time of inquisitiveness and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. He can't wait to go back and to be frank, neither can I. 

Any steam in this engine you think? 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Random things

It's been so long that I think I may have forgotten how to write. A selection of random things to get me going:

1. It's been 12 years since I left India. Indian adverts still make me cry and feel homesick. As do 'diaspora' books - Indian authors abroad who write about life outside India. And I know this is an unpopular sentiment, if you love it you could come back/ why did you leave it/ blah blah blah. Whatever. I live abroad, I have my reasons and I have every right to be as nostalgic as I want, thanks very much. 

2. My friend once told me that with everything she tries to take the moderate view. When I was younger (read 20's) I took very strong views about everything. I sort of told it like it was, misguidedly believing that hearing the truth, no matter how painful, was better. With age, the 30's, I still have strong views and I'd rather have the unpalatable truth told to me than not. The change however is that I now get that other people aren't me and don't necessarily always want extreme views/ my truth/ any opinions. That each person has a different threshold/ view/ moderation to their beliefs. That my truth isn't necessarily someone else's. It's been the greatest change in my personality.

3. All this thinking has been a bit of an out of body experience. Recently some of our very dearest friends had a baby boy. A little bundle of hanging cheeks and big eyes. I've only seen him on Skype/ FaceTime but I think about him a lot. I can't wait to see him. When we were younger we hung out with this couple a Lot. You always imagine/ picture / lean towards the future but in that moment you don't realistically see yourself leading this grown up life. I could always see V and I together (we were both young, wistful and real people) but I never once saw how amazing my Kid would be or what a wild ride parenthood promises. It's quite the reverse now. So some days I look back at pictures of us back then and to me they seem like someone else's life. And yet here we are, done with those young years, tempering our extreme views (just me) and living out these lives as best we can.

4. I did the stupidest thing by trying to rectify my very bad haircut by going elsewhere and cutting it yet shorter. Of course on the day it looked great but my god it's now the very worst it has ever looked (bar one particular instance in high school). Now I can't even tie it back a bit. Less bird nest, more electric shock. Picture it. Or shut your eyes and change the topic to avoid thinking about it.

5. It would seem I cry more, keep my opinions to myself more and my fading memories are turning sepia and belong to an entirely different person. Add the terrible haircut to the mix and I am turning into a little (ok ok, fat yet little) middle aged lady. All that's missing is a serious mid-life crisis activity. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014


A late night Saturday (by my standards alone - I'd go to bed when my Kid does if I could) and we are enjoying the soulful and jazz tunes of Dylan Foster at the Sultan Jazz club. 

V is becoming an expert at organising lovely evenings in the past few months. This was unexpected and we are having a lovely time. 

Dylan Foster's voice is more than nice although the accoustics aren't the absolute best. It's been an age though since I've been to listen to hear live music and for that alone this evening is lovely. We have just had a disappointing dinner down the road at Piedra Negra (over mushed guacamole, patatas bravas swimming in a sweet tomato sauce and over cooked burritos and quesadillas to finish) and this is more than making up for it. 

'Lovely Day' indeed. Dad, you would've loved this. When you coming to Singers again? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Housekeeping details

Of late I'm often amazed that I'm a grown up with my own home. Yesterday I was WhatsApp-ing with my closest pals from college and the son of one of them one just got elected to be head boy of his school. We were all congratulating her and I'm was like weren't we just in school ourselves?! Seems hardly possible that one of us has a child old enough to be a head boy. I totally get what my mom means now when she says she feels 21.

Anyway I've been having many such moments lately. Of looking around my house and being surprised at myself for having a house and wanting it to look a certain way. It all came to a head recently when the dining table that we chose over a year ago went bad for the second time. It's an old Indian wood and brass door balanced on some legs and with glass floating over the top. We both loved this door the second we saw it and this 10 seater has been the pride and joy of our home for a year. It was made by a store called Originals, where a lot of our furniture is from and a store I buy something from EVERYTIME I visit! So when it started to develop mould patches last year we called them and they took it away to have a look. Turned out it hadn't been sealed properly. Anyway, months later it had been dried out and sealed properly and was back looking as amazing as when it first arrived.

Without the glass that floats on top

Forward to three months ago and the mouldy patches were back. The store agreed that the mould was inside the old door and seemed intent on escaping. It's a health hazard and they have kindly agreed to take back this bespoke table and refund us. The table went this week and is unlikely to be able to be 'fixed' enough for use again. Instead of a refund though we have chosen to borrow a table from them while we wait for their containers to arrive and choose a new door. V loves the idea enough to wait for this exact style of table - we've been back a few times to look at shipments and haven't found anything that even comes close. I suspect it's going to be a long wait. 

In the meanwhile I was attempting to sort through cupboards which I don't open for months. I found a beautiful oversized glass bowl (similar to a large fish bowl but slightly shaped rather than completely round) which was a wedding present from a good friend of V's. She bought it in Germany and carried it to London in early 2002, shortly after our wedding. It's been used a handful of times to hold bundles of tulips but has mostly languished in the cupboard. Its quite large and ungainly on its own and you need an awful lot of flowers to make it look halfway decent. It's moved home three times and continents once. 

On a whim I decided to look up companies that make terrariums (which all this time I have been mistakenly calling terraniums) and found one right here in Singapore. Found this guy called Daniel who runs a small store and online portal called 'Love in a bottle'. Called and explained I had a vase and would he please turn it into a piece of live art? He said 'Yes' and I took him the bowl three weeks ago. His little shop in Joo Chiat road had lots of lovely little pieces. I bought a seashell shaped terrarium for my sis-in-law as part of her birthday present and dropped off my vase. We exchanged a few design ideas by email and finally yesterday the terrarium has arrived. I LOVE IT! 

Sitting pretty on my coffee table

I have been gazing at it the whole afternoon. Kid has taken over the careful job of spraying it with water every three days. I shall have to watch for over-enthusiasm but it's a great little project for him. I'm so so pleased with it. I wish we had done it before. 

It turns out that I'm such a middle aged Aunty, loving my house with all my might, so exactly the opposite of what I imagined a grown up life would be . 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Expectations from life

Forgive me while I ramble and make a pigs ear out of this. 

In my worst, most self pitying moments last year I asked for advice from a few close friends and family. Almost all of them had advice on how to get out of my pity party unscathed:
1. I should count my blessings - I do have a material life that lacks for nothing.
2. Lower my very high expectations of everything (and that this would make me so very happy)
3. Stop depending on other people, you can't change them so don't waste any effort.
4. Get a job. You will have no time to sit and think about your expectations! 

Well, aside from the fact that I do have materially whatever I wish for (and I never wished for much to start with so it's all been a Very Pleasant Surprise) and I count all my blessings, most of my expectations are about behaviour, about feelings, about caring. 

And I do understand at the base level that it is impossible to change a persons true nature, that people are essentially self centred and selfish. And yet I expect better. More kindliness towards someone that has been kind. Love and respect for parents who have spent their entire lives in teaching you right from wrong and the value of things. Thinking less of ones own happiness (in already happy and rich lives) and more of what you could do to make others happy. Loving another's child with almost as much zeal as ones own. Not taking for granted that everyone will rock up when you need them but that you in no way need to do the same. Expect them to keep in regular touch with you but not reciprocate. Not to feel invisible. Life, I tell you, has been full of disappointments.

I tried for a few months to lower my expectations but man, that just hurt. I felt an almost physical pain when I realised I could rely on exactly 4 people in the whole entire world. And then too it would be a bit like pulling teeth. And I get I can't rely on Everyone for my emotional well being but I find that I can't even rely on people for anything. Not to be kind, not to be thoughful, not to be gentle, not to be present.

And I get that people have busy lives, their own priorities. But I think each person is surrounded by people, in varying of degrees of closeness, like radiating circles and that most people, after they get to circle 2 (still close family) just do not give a sh*t. Some people don't even get past circle 1 (themselves and a spouse) so self centred is their existence. And I'm sorry but much as I tried that lowering my expectations cape I just found it too made for an empty existence. I want others to have expectations of me (to be a good kind person in whatever way they need) and to have expectations of others (to be loved, thought about, cherished in my many roles as a person on this planet) and I know that I fulfil many expectations others have of me (to care, to connect, to do, to love, to cherish). I don't think it's that hard, you just have to want it. And sadly I seem to have filled my life with people who don't. 

If I were to write an epitaph for myself I should like to say 'she tried her hardest to be kind and gentle'. And I know that try as I might many people think I am miles from this. And while I may well be far away from my goal of 'kind person' I try, very consciously, to think about my family and friends every single day. Whether it's a phone call or a text or a WhatsApp or a present or a laugh or a coffee or a meal or taking children on days out or taking parents on vacation or visiting relatives or posting postcards & surprises to people on the otherside of the world, nearly every one of these thoughts is begun with kindness and love and wanting as much to show my love for them and in some small way to know they love me back.

I recently received a lovely long hand letter from one of my dearest friends in the world. She and I have had many experiences in common and now that we live in different continents this writing has bound us into firmer friends. As I have sat here for a few nights cobbling together a reply I've been thinking more and more about this, these small wonders that just link people and that people are so very careless with. I'm trying to be mindful but after many months of that near physical pain I found I could not accept the whole 'have no expectations and you will be happier'. I may not be much happier if I expect but am continually disappointed. But I will certainly be fuller than if I empty myself of all feeling. 

I'm rambling, I know. And I'm not seeking answers for any of this. I've let go of a lot of this in 2013 (undoubtedly one of the years of greatest self doubt for me) but I still live in hope that someone somewhere will surprise me by keeping up their end of the relationship bargain. 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The hack job

You would think that a lifetime (ok that's what the unending teen years felt like) of hideous haircuts would teach me not to chop my hair off. That my hair is curly, unmanageable, frizzy and oh so Mallu. But no, clearly not one lesson has been learnt. 

I decided on a whim to ask the hairdresser dude to cut my hair a bit shorter than I normally go for and instead of layering or LISTENING really he just hacked it all off into one awful bob/ blob. 

So instead of the back being a bit longer and the hair framing my face I look like someone put an oversize bowl on my head and just cut off whatever was the overhang. I cannot emphasise how awful it is. Ok, so today it doesn't look terrible but that is only because he added about 6litres of product to it and dried it straight into some semblance of 'done'. 

But even as I left this evening for a movie with a friend the hair had begun its ruthless ascent into a birds nest of frizz. And no amount of yanking will make it stay put in a mini pigtail. Disaster I tellya.

My son said 'oh mama, I don't like it. Make it long again ok?!' (4 year olds have innocence and logic pat down)

My mum said 'I love you'. (And I think she meant inspite of that haircut!)

V just said 'You had a haircut'. (Because that is all that is left to say)

Let me also tell you that it doesn't grow out as fast as it used to. Or as fast as I imagined it grew out. And I don't look younger, just more insane. There seems to be no solution save getting a wig and I'm too lazy for that. I could invest in vats of hair product but I don't think I have the time or patience for it. Either way, I think severe headbands and my glasses balanced on my head at all times seems to be the only way to not look like I have a family of birds residing on my head. See you in a few months.....

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sunday Lunch - 8: Dempsey

I'm picking our lunch places off a list of names I've cobbled together from many sources. Recommendations from friends, Singapore's Time out, recommendations on an FB page I follow, and a bunch of serious Singaporean food blogs.

This Sunday I got us a booking at Chopsuey in Dempsey Hill. It's relatively new and had mixed reviews but the menu looked intriguing enough to try. It was all 6 of us (my sis in law is vegetarian and my nephew tends to be as well) this hot Sunday. And the trains of course (that's two Bill's and two Toby's). 

Am I glad we tried it or what?! It was OUTSTANDING. We ordered a variety of dim sum including some pork buns, vegetable noodles, chicken with tofu satay, stir fried vegetables, chicken in schezuan sauce and some rice with spinach. Each of the dim sum dishes appeared in a cute little basket. 

The bulk of the menu is seafood based with prawn and various meats. But there are vegetarian gems to be found and asked for. The vegetarian dumplings were outstanding as were the lovely dry vegetable noodles which were utterly fresh and delicious and covered in delectable vegetables.

The decor is simple. Black and white dominates the space but blended beautifully so it does not look stark. The big framed windows look out into a covered outdoor area and to banana trees and lush greenery. And although the restaurant is not very big it's all very pleasing to the eye. 

The food is served on white plates which sit within heavy silver ware. The quantities are generous and the staff understood what we meant when we said vegetarian/ shellfish allergies and made helpful suggestions. It was fairly full but we didn't feel rushed or intruded upon. It was not an inexpensive meal but really we do this once a week and Singapore is expensive so now we know what to expect. 

What I didn't know till the very end was that this is a venture by the already famous P.S.Cafe. Once I knew I could see the odd touch that is common. I rarely leave a comment card unless it's to complain about something (one of the things I am trying to do this year is find something good in everything rather than complain a lot - and I thought writing a little nice something in comment cards would be a good start) and so I wrote them a little compliment on their card. All in all it was a lovely leisurely lunch and I for one have a new Dempsey favourite. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I bow to thee my A.M.A.Z.I.N.G friend

It's Sunday and I'm sat the movie hall waiting for my weekly movie fix to be sorted by Jack Ryan. I don't have high hopes which is good. At least I have M&M's.

I've been thinking of my amazing friend all day today, from the second I woke up till I just read this post.

I have only awe - for her 42.195 in 4:43mins, her falling nails, her water filled blisters, her endurance, HER. And I know thousands of people run it but this is the person I know so I'm allowed to have awe for just her. 

Take a bow, Ms. Raman, for you and what you did are amazing and I can't wait to donate to the many many marathons I see in your future!