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Preview: 30 in 2005

30 in 2005



Life - just a bit of the truth



Updated: 2016-12-09T22:27:32.602+08:00

 



The bright M

2016-10-08T22:38:01.161+08:00

11 years after V and I visited it for the first time we are back for a weekend in Macau. This time we have Kid (who likes nothing better than jumping on plush hotel beds) and V's folks who are visiting us in Hong Kong for a bit. 

So far Macau is fun. We took the hour long turbojet ferry and checked into our hotel. Ate a lovely Chinese lunch, chilled out all afternoon in and around the hotel. V took his folks to the casino. Then went for a show - House of Dancing Waters - which was pretty spectacular. My palms hurt from clapping for the stunningly talented cast and crew. Also told off a lady in front of me for checking her whatsapp and downloading pictures during the show - the light kept distracting me and others around us. Beside which the tickets are expensive and really if she didn't want to watch then maybe she should have spent the evening (and her money) elsewhere. Then dinner and back at the hotel for the night. 

It's all very showy and bright and glitzy. Fake Eiffel Tower, gondolas inside artificial Venetian canals, bright lights in every colour adorning the building. Loads of men in gold embellished shoes and serious sunglasses , wearing loads of chains around the necks of their velour track suits. With entourages. Hideous hotel lobby at The Venetian where we went for dinner. It all seems like a crazy plastic, money, neon and gold combo. Makes a change from suburban Hong Kong Island life. 




Deprived

2016-10-06T05:41:41.407+08:00

I'm going to kick the next person that suggests that not having two children means I have deprived my child of companionship post my demise. 



Time slips away

2016-08-15T17:30:23.638+08:00

• We've had a 9 week long summer break and tomorrow it's back to the books and fun for Kid. • It's been full of trips, this summer has: Singapore, Taipei, London, Delhi and Kolkata. 12 flights for me and 10 each for V and Kid. • We've seen friends and family galore and although no amount of time would be enough we've reconnected with so many people this year. So many special people, to me, to my child. • As much fun as it's all been I'm ready for the routine of staying school and home. And not going to the airport. And not packing or unpacking.• The most (un)exciting bit was a lost suitcase at Heathrow. Mine, the only time I have ever packed without spreading our things around more than one suitcase. Luckily I had spares in my hand baggage.  And thankfully it was found - it was the one with every present in it! • We've watched movies galore this summer. Finding Nemo, Ice Age 1/2/3/4/ Mammoth Christmas and Jungle Book on DVD and Finding Dory, Secret Life of Pets and Ice Age 5 in the theatre.• I've read a LOT - I had a huge pile of unread and re-read books to plough through. Despite my intentions to not burden my bookshelf further I bought back a pile of 6 books from London and 4 from India. So I'm set for the next few months.• I turned 41 while in London. It was a pretty perfect day (with mild annoyances I'm trying to forget). Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidian, lunch at Wagamama, dinner at Busaba and the worlds best martini at Duke's to top the night off. • My Nani (maternal grandmother) has been unwell. She has Alzheimer's and that means she often doesn't know to tell if she feeling unwell. This time she left it till she had an internal infection that showed itself by disorienting her even further. It took a weeks hospital stay and IV antibiotics to get her better. My mum and I travelled to visit her. Since I last saw her (less than a year ago) her Alzheimer's has become much worse. She is totally disoriented and recognises very few people - almost all male - he son, grandsons and son in law. She doesn't recognize my mother unless prompted and didn't recognise me when I visited. Horrid to see how Old Age robs people of their dignity. This slow degeneration makes a mockery of the fine lives they led, the colossi they once were and leaves us with the bitter taste of how frail and childlike they become. • It's back to school tomorrow and today we visited the new classroom, met the teacher and the class pet, admired the view (how anyone works or studies with this I do not understand), bought the new school calendar and checked that all our uniforms are still fit for purpose. One Yoda bag later my child is ready for day 1 of Grade 2 tomorrow. It's going to be a good year, Kid. [...]



Japan 2

2016-08-13T12:56:20.252+08:00

Inspired by the Bride I've decided to complete and update my own Japanese trip draft/ report. This is all history now so forgive me for any errors:• Literally wolfed down our best ever meal at 511 in Akasaka, Tokyo before dashing to catch our Shinkasen to Osaka. That is a meal that will stay with me for a long while to come. • The Bullet train, smoothest ride, was a quick and efficient way to get from Tokyo to Osaka.• Great legroom, clean and neat and such an orderly line getting into our compartment. The view whizzed by but we saw enough of the Japanese countryside. We quite enjoyed the experience.• Originally we wanted to stay in Kyoto for the 3 nights. Of course we only booked about 4 weeks before traveling  and by that point everything was fully booked. From every hotel to fancy ryokan. The next best thing to do was stay in Osaka which is half an hour away and visit for a day. • Osaka, industrial and very basic and beside the (again) re-created Osaka Palace I was really not impressed by its industrial looking architecture.• Food on the other hand. OMG! My favorite Japanese meal is Okonomiyaki - and nothing I make at home is even a patch on this, the home of Okonomiyaki. Absolutely delicious. Osaka is certainly a food lovers destination and we had wonderful meals in very simple restaurants. Teppenyaki and Okonomiyaki and all manner of Tempura were the stars....• Amidst the crowded Osaka streets we saw these beautiful temples and met a bunch of locals who totally encouraged us to participate, folding hands and burning incense.• Beautiful pot hole covers totally held my fascination as wandered around and feasted on tempura. Also a slew of Hello Kitty merchandise and Disney shoes! • Kyoto was...how do I even describe it....magic. It was a half hour train ride from Osaka (and our hotel was very close to the main station). And once in Kyoto there is so much to choose from. •Temples and gardens and entire areas to wander around with ones jaw wiping the floor behind. Since we only had the one day we chose two: the Bamboo groves with Tenryuji temple and then the Botanical gardens with their beautiful shrine and lush Sakura trees. • A quick walk through the Gion district before our long day ended.• Kyoto, we didn't even scratch the surface. I wish we had planned it better and had a few more days.• I discovered the joys of Instagram on this trip. The beauty and simplicity of their architecture and the Sakura made it a visual treat. • I have another list of Japanese loves that will follow shortly. [...]



Ice age parenting

2016-08-13T11:18:40.192+08:00

Watching Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (about the 500th time this summer; don't ask) and this dialogue cracks me up every time:

Sid: Manny, who do you like better, me or Diego?
Manny: Diego. It's not even close.
Diego: [smug] Heh, told ya.
Ellie: Manny! You can't choose between your kids!
Manny: He's not my kid. He's not even my dog. If I had a dog, and my dog had a kid, and that dog's kid had a pet, that would be Sid.
Sid: Can I have a dog, Manny?
Manny: No.
Sid: Ellie, can I have a dog?
Ellie: Of course you can, sweetie.
Manny: Ellie, we have to be consistent with them.

And herein lies the crux of our parenting battle: consistency. I seem to spend all week mixing up fun with discipline and routine and then V spends the weekend throwing all routine and most discipline out of the window in favour of fun. As many a friend will testify, before we had a kid we never fought. It was almost something weird about us, the happy harmony. And yet post child we have so many disagreements - and every single one of them is about child rearing. We won't reach a compromise on any of it, our personalities are both too strong for that (ironically the types of personalities we are is what has made us a strong couple for much more than half our lives). Sure our values are on the same page and we have the same overall aims for our child but the everyday nitty gritty, that is what I struggle to compromise on/ to let go off. With any luck our child will grow up oblivious to this tear in our relationship caused by such differing notions in child rearing. He seems happy and well adjusted for now but I think as he grows he might notice our differences in opinion, in the mood of the room rather than any overt words of conflict. I have been trying in small ways to work at being a better parent and partner but I wonder if the years of knowledge and strength in our relationship is enough to invisibly darn the rent. Parenting Dilemas abound. 



Another day, another Taipei

2016-07-03T17:13:58.425+08:00

While yesterday was all about the Big Glossy building and a Big meal, today was about a little bit of history and culture. We began at the LongShan or LungShan (depending on who is speaking) temple. Founded in 1738 and dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy this beautiful building is not the original. It was rebuilt between 1919 and 1924 and during this time a number of Taoist deities were included in its grounds. A beautiful gate leads to a courtyard and then the 3 halls of prayer which surround their own courtyard. The beautiful jasmine incense filled air and praying people mingled with tourists like us. Kid greatly admired the Koi pond and artificial waterfall.We left the temple and headed to the Heritage and Cultural Education Centre. Located just a few blocks away from the temple this little gem is a block of its own; interconnected streets showcasing the original two storey buildings of the Bo-pi-Liao neighbourhood.The rooms showcased the evolution of this areas history starting from 200 years ago (Qing Dynasty), passing the Japanese colonial rule and then later the Nationalist era. Using the old buildings as a base the many rooms and courtyards showcased various transport modes for trade (rickshaws, barges), architecture (2 stories, deep shaded corridors to keep rain and sun at bay), education (from Confucian moral and ethical views to Japanese New education to the Nine Year compulsory national schools), leisure pursuits (the old style wooden games were a hoot to play - I enjoyed them as much as Kid), commerce (shophouses and various stores/ services), missionaries and the introduction of various types of medicine (apothecary, herb alley to modern medicine). It was a fascinating if hot few hours and we were grateful for the few rooms which were air conditioned. Then we headed to lunch at the highly recommended AAD @ Taipei Fish Market. After looking through the various (smelly) fish tanks we wandered through the very crowded supermarket and food stalls. We finally settled in the courtyard eating a variety of fishy and meaty delights skewered on a barbecue. This place is called Addiction Aquatic Development - a name I don't fully understand but think of as very cute. Like the name of our server which was 'Cute'. Sated, we headed back to the hotel while the clouds began to gather and thunder threatened.Instead of the zoo and the MaoKong cable car it turned into indoor afternoon admiring the lightening and thunderstorm. We read, did puzzles, ate cake & ice cream, watched Wimbledon and had an epic pillow fight. Then we went for a swim and ended the day with dinner in the local arcade.Thank you Taipei. It's been fun. [...]



Taipei 101 on Day 1....

2016-07-01T23:00:57.998+08:00

It's turning into a busy summer. We had a few quick days in Singapore as soon as school closed and before a fun summer camp back in Hong Kong. Tthen a quick look at the calendar revealed a public holiday in Hong Kong today and so with some quick decision making we booked last minute flights and headed here to Taipei, capital of Taiwan.I always imagine we can achieve more in a day than we actually can and so research where to visit and what to eat rigorously in the march up to the holiday. Making notes, prioritising etc. I was short on time with this one but found plenty of bloggers who have done this trip (with or without kids) and wealth of  other Internet resources to help compile a quick list. There is however an entirely separate matter - managing my expectations. Initially I always think we can knock numerous things off the list to see, do and eat. This is usually without considering that places must interest us all and food must appeal to us all. Of course once finally here I must also accommodate my own slow pace with the speed of V and enthusiasm of Kid and find a happy medium for us all. So today, Day 1 in Taipei, we ate a wonderful hotel breakfast and headed off to the tallest building in town, Taipei 101. The lines were short and post ticket purchase we were whisked up at great speed to the 89th level. The elevator once (2014-15) held the Guiness Book record for fastest elevator and while the record may have been beaten the ride was amazingly quick.The Observation deck was similar to the one we had seen in the SkyTree in Tokyo. Big windows framing the city in every direction. I took this to show the curlicue design on the outside of the building up close. Taipei is dense but orderly in its planning and there is plenty of greenery around, hills and parks abound. We then went up to the 91st floor which has an outdoor observation deck. Boiling hot sun and 3 sides closed off meant there were almost no people on it beside us. Kid enjoyed his time at the binoculars while we sweated it out. I thought the framed windows a few floors lower provided a better unobstructed view in addition to providing blessed air conditioning. Then it was time to walk down a few floors to the engineering marvel that is a damper. Forgive me, for I am the daughter of an engineer (who would have loved looking at this with us). Sitting just 660 ft. from a major fault line, Taipei 101 is prone to earthquakes and fierce winds common in this area of the Asia-Pacific. To achieve stability and lessen the impact of violent motion, a gigantic tuned mass damper was designed. The damper consist of a steel sphere 18 feet across and weighing 728 ton, suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor. Acting like a giant pendulum, the massive steel ball sways to counteract the building’s movement caused by strong gusts of wind. Kid and I both thought it looked like a giant beehive! We did marvel at its ingenuity and sheer size though. Then we took the neat and clean MRT 4 stops to Dongmen and walked briskly to our lunch destination. It was always the plan to visit and pay homage to the original  Din Tai Fung. A pilgrimage if you like. And so we waited patiently with the masses for 30 minutes before we were seated on the 3rd level of this very narrow dining epic. Steaming baskets of delectable xiaolongbao (soup filled dumplings) and Sui Mai alongside their unique egg fried rice and signature hot and sour soup covered our table. Kid was in food heaven as were we! It all tastes better her than any of the others - and that's probably not true but hunger and excitement certainly made it feel so! Then back to the hotel for a bit of down time. V went off to have a massage while Kid and I attempted a nap. We were foiled by all manner of sticking activities in a Lego Star Wars book. When it grew cooler we decided to head out again, this time t[...]



How Monday became the new Sunday

2016-06-29T23:19:20.056+08:00

In our nearly 3 years in Singapore I got into the habit of going for a movie every Sunday evening. It was a good ritual to end the week and meant I kept on top of the goings on in Holly/ Bollywood. It started with the time V had long work hours and I was home with a small child all week, every week. Sunday evening was when I'd leave them to it and have a few hours of eacapism into the Screen.

Toward the end of our stay in Singapore the movie watching rate dropped and I was watching every 3 out of 4 Sunday's. I put this down to the pressure of the impending move and vowed to get back to it with gusto once here in HK.

HK is a whole different ballgame though. I live on the Southside and there is not a single movie theatre on the entire south of the Island. I'd have to go north via shuttle/ bus/ taxi to find a decent cinema hall. Even when I do this is I am at least half an hour away. In addition the few apps that show the movie schedules weren't great. Also the whole settling in to new city meant a lot of weekend activities to help settle and meet new people. So needless to say the first few months were movie light. 

Subsequently though I found myself watching stuff on a plane journey and resolving to get back into it. I was missing too much! 

During a conversation with someone about how hectic the weekends are she was telling me how she 'celebrates' Sunday on a Monday by vegetating in the house once everyone has left for work/ school. It sounded like an appealing idea and that very Monday I decided that I too would lounge around on a Monday morning, admiring the view, reading and nibbling on chips in front of the TV, instead of getting into errands and chores. 

By the second Monday I figured out that this wasn't for me. I needed to do something to celebrate my 'Monday is the new Sunday' existence and so I decided to look up the movie schedule and hit a theatre. Et voila, Monday is my new Sunday. I now pick one of three equidistant cinemas and an early-ish show and watch a movie in peace every Monday. 

The only grouse is the lack of any Hindi movies on HK island. Surprising considering how many Indians seem to be in this country! All the Hindi movie screenings seem to be at awkward times of night and in Kowloon. Got my quick fix by watching 2 in a row when in Singapore 2 weeks ago: Te3n and Dhanak. I like the make believe world of movies: where their problems are not my problems and I can be a mere spectator. 



Steam

2016-06-29T08:08:45.690+08:00

I'm feeling like a pressure cooker today. And urgently needing to vent else I might explode. Luckily none of the people mentioned below know of or read this blog....

Things that are currently annoying me:
1. People with more than one child who hold both the holier-than-thou stance and the 'I have too much on my plate; it's much harder to coordinate with two/ three' stance. No shit. Not your business that I have 1. Frankly don't care if you have 6. 
2. Misspoken words: I've been accused of this recently in regard to holiday plans and its led to an all out fight from which yours truly quickly has now clammed up and retreated. I know I am right but shouting it louder won't get me the result I want. Turns out I don't have to be an idiot just because everyone else is. I'm all zen. 
3. Stupid swimming pool rules which say there must be 2 lifeguards by the pool at all times. This means no early morning or late evening swims - too costly apparently - and its too hot the rest of the time. This is my way of letting of steam - 50 lengths - and as I don't have it these days I have this blog to shout at. Not sure what the lifeguards will be saving me from anyway - they are too busy looking at their phones. 
4. Predominantly white women's clubs - or rather the assumption that if we are of Indian descent we possibly couldn't be any fun socially. I swear, the amount of time I have invested in friendships and relationships is turning out to be so not worth it. Watching as people I thought were friends go out to lunches and the like in big groups but exclude me is painful. This has been a problem for a few months now. Luckily I moved past it and stuck to my small group of pals (which in itself needs a lot of effort) till this week I was invited to coffee by one lady who proceeded to tell me that normally she would have invited x y and z but since they have left for the summer she is lonely (and the unspoken assumption is that she invited me only because I am still here). I wish I could say I am imagining all this being slighted but no it's all too real. 
5. Demanding quality: I've seen this happen recently. A product and service being paid for and a crap job being done with it and no one saying anything because it's a pal that did it. People not taking responsibility and blaming me/ us for things not working. Ruining friendships is what going into business with or relying on a friend has done. And in both cases my reaction has been disproportionate to the situation. Like V says I have to think of these things as monetary transactions and not get emotionally bound within them. 

Maybe it's me. It probably is. But frankly I don't give a damn. Also now that I'm a curmudgeonly 40 I don't think there is much scope for change. 



Star Wars to help him turn 7....

2016-06-06T20:01:33.843+08:00

For the mums who think I spend too much time with my kid and do too many crafty things with him, sorry. I suggest you walk away now as this post will only aggravate you and make you dislike me more. Yes I like both those things but that's just me. Weird. Birthday is a month away but this past weekend we celebrated Kids birthday as school is about to close and all his friends will disappear for the summer. We celebrated on Saturday morning, sharing it with his classmate who is just a week older than him, so also has a summer holiday birthday.Since this past December vacation, when he watched his first Star Wars movie, Kid has been obsessed. And so Star Wars birthday party it was. And here is what I and he made and did over the past month to get out of my funk:Activity corner - White cards, cut up foam pieces (and crayons/ pencils not in the picture)Food signs. Black paper and silver sharpie.R2D2 lantern and tie fighter bannersBanners - grey sheets of paper, silver sharpie and black stickers + black twine and tape. Tape resist Death Star. I was going to use this for a 4 corners dancing game (think gentler, no shove version of musical chairs) but we ran out of time so it ended up being wall art. I gave 2 to the kid we shared the party with as a reminder of the day and friendship he and and my son shared. He is leaving permanently for another continent this summer.Yes I know the spelling is incorrect. I was following my child's bidding (he is at an age where he 'knows EVERYTHING'). Took nothing away from the tasty-ness of eating the 'very evil Stormtroopers'. Quick glance at the table - White table cloth and silver star confetti, empty boxes wrapped in silver wrapping paper and on them homemade fake Lego lands created from fake terrarium materials.1 of 2 terrariums - kid and I made these together. My glass bowls, fake mud, fake rocks, fake shells, fake plants, fake fence and real Star Wars Lego.1 of 2 terrariums from the planet of Hoth. Fake snow, my glass jug and real Star Wars Lego. Small abstract Star Wars foam art. You will see them behind the table on the wall, scattered around the tie fighters banners. Star Wars cake. Real Lego figures on it.Star Wars equivalent of 'pin the tail on the donkey'. Each kid gets a triangular 'Star destroyer' with their name on it. The back has double sided tape. So blindfold, spin around to make them dizzy and then tape peeled and stick. 4 winners - one for each circled Star. Tape resist Death Star - two tries to get a 'ray' through the Death Star. Star Wars duct tape makes the bowling lane. Just some of the bowling pins Kid and I made together. We also had Chewbacca and C3P0.Inexpensive light sabers - return present part 1.A book each, a Star Wars pencil and a pack of Force Attax cards in a blue envelope - return present part 2. Done. And. Dusted.Awesome fun. [...]



In a mood

2016-05-16T10:42:26.230+08:00

I was talking to my brother yesterday and he asked why I haven't blogged in an age. Where is the follow up Japan post? What's up? And my stock answer was I'm too bored; who cares etc.

But I got to thinking about it a bit later and realized that actually I'm in a 'mood'. A bad and fairly unhealthy mood. I'm too young (ok middle aged) to be in this mood. And I should be changing things that annoy me instead of indulging in 'what ifs'. I should be kicking away these crazy thoughts. Ones where everyone annoys me no matter what they say or do. Some more than others and with valid reason. Others just by their being Right. Here or Right. There. 

I have often thought I'm quite a happy person. I have literally nothing I can complain about with any real validity or without immediately thinking, 'Well that is just a not real problem compared to x, y or poverty and war'. I've often backed myself into the corner with one of my mini pity parties and given myself a mental dressing down till my sunny side has re-appeared. But I've also always been a person that can forgive but not forget. Lately though the dressing downs work for ever shorter periods and the pity parties have gone but I've wanted more than anything to air out all the 'not forgottens''. Hence the silence. If I don't watch it will probably say things I shouldn't and which really aren't problems but annoy me just the same. As my mother says, if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all. I need to break out of this funk. After all, summer is here and really, I HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. 




Japan: 1

2016-04-03T10:46:08.489+08:00

Fair warning: long and not very together post about our trip. Ramblings for me to look at in old age and reminisce about.• Just back from a week in Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, Sakura blossoms, Sushi & Sashimi, kimonos and so so much more• As a child I had a two story 'world cultures'  book - one story each about a Japanese family and an Eskimo family. I've harboured an irrational desire to visit Japan ever since. • Some good advanced planning and actually booking meant that our school term break would coincide exactly with the due date of the cherry blossom blooming.• For a change, with very little prompting, V booked his leave, our flights and hotels, all within days of our initial discussion on what to do for the break.• Then it was my half of the bargain - figuring out what to see and do and whether to Japan Rail pass it or not.• Armed with knowledge from a friendly neighbour that just moved here from Tokyo and various internet sites (including marvelous FB) I got to work.• This is what we knew thanks to our tickets: fly in to Narita, Tokyo and fly out of Kansai, Osaka. Hotels were 4 nights in Tokyo and 3 in Osaka. • All my research confirmed that unless we were doing a bunch of day trips out of either city and willing to travel between the cities on the slightly slower than bullet train then a Japan Rail pass made no sense. • People kept saying 'why haven't you got your JR pass', 'it was so useful to have the pass/ you are fools for not getting it etc'....Thankfully I didn't listen to them. • We bought Narita Express tickets from the airport. We purchased Suica cards (much like Oyster/ Octopus cards) which allowed us to use subways, buses and JR lines. We bought Nozomi (bullet) tickets to Osaka. We purchased an open day return to Kyoto and we saved nearly 1/3rd on the cost of the JP pass.Enough about travel.• Tokyo: Narita airport was functional but shabby and a bit run down to look at but even then you could see the innovation, technology, design and discipline. Example: luggage carts that go down and up escalators into the train station. • Narita express was fast and efficient and the red bricked (recently renovated on the outside) Tokyo station was a manageable maze. Saw my First Lady in Kimono in the line for the taxi!!!• An evening wandering around Roppongi, crowded and neon lit, but industrial and residential in equal measure was a good introduction to Tokyo.• Spent half a day exploring the Imperial Palace. Beautifully laid out gardens amidst large stone walls and moats. Pine trees, old guardhouses, enormous gates, bamboo groves, orange trees and of course flowering Sakura trees. • Joined at lunchtime by a Japanese friend that moved back from Singapore to Japan over a year and a half ago. So nice to catch up and see her adorable little boy. Missed seeing R who had to be at Girl Scouts...• Spent half a day wandering around Ginza. Went to the largest Uniqlo in the world and bought Lego Tshirts amongst other not needed but much cheaper than HK/ Singapore stuff. V and Kid went to the Hakuhinkan Toy Park with floors of toys and again the Lego was so much cheaper that indulgent father bought 5 boxes of it much to Kids delight. • I spent my afternoon gazing at the beautiful shop windows and wandering through the amazing multi stories paper shops: beautiful handmade paper products, desk accessories, chiyogami paper, origami earrings and other stuff a stationery junkies dreams are made off. People watching from a coffee shop while trying to delicately eat my way through the beautiful confectionary section. • A morning at the Meiji shrine where despite the tourist hoardes there was enough peace to enjoy a morning ritual and the calm o[...]



Decadence

2016-03-17T16:49:47.755+08:00

I am sat at Gate 31, sipping a grande mocha and blogging. I've wandered through the airport and despaired at the sizes of and limited choices in Relay. My light and beautiful black leather tote bag (the kind that is usually filled to the brim and makes my shoulder dip dangerously to one side) and I are learning to navigate the depths of its leather interiors without wadded tissue, random Lego robbers and packs of Crackers joining in the fun.

Yes, I am at the airport without my little One. Kid isn't that little anymore. Where earlier this would have elicited huge tears, now it's just knowing in advance and having a plan. He waved me off at the elevator and went back to the important task of defending the universe against Star Wars baddies. Later he has a play date and a full day of activities tomorrow before a weekend of dad fun. Only my organisational skills were needed before I embarked. A big spreadsheet on the fridge has activities, menus, important contact details and clues to find hidden treasure. A smaller sheet is for him to write me notes about the weather and his best moment of the day. And one kiss later, bye mom. 

I am on my way to India. Specifically to Goa. To celebrate my besties 40th birthday. 6 women, no spouses, partners, children, pets, work. 3 days of lie ins, long lunches, rambling walks and some sun on our backs. She is the last of the lot to turn the big 4-0. The baby among us. In a way we are all celebrating our own turns into 40. That is what awaits. 

I have never been to Goa. I don't know a single person from or in Goa but I know plenty who make this pilgrimage every year. I'm off to see what the fuss is all about. Wish me no sunburn, just a gentle sea breeze and a kind sun and few days of life reaffirmation. 



A lie-in

2016-03-01T08:49:24.961+08:00

 - Before my life in the UK I had never heard the phrase 'lie-in'. Once I understood that it just meant sleeping/ staying supine/ in bed that little bit extra,  I realized I'd been doing it my whole life anyway. I just didn't know the right terminology. 

- All wrongs are righted. I know what a lie in is, and to top it all, I'm quite the expert.

- By all means, post surgery I'm officially entitled to lie-ins. But I like to get up and get my kid ready for school and have breakfast chats about the way to beat Count Dooku and what storm troopers should be doing before its time for the bus.

- So I usually come back up, change back into PJs and have interrupted lie-ins.

Today was an early morning. I've just dropped my mum to the airport after 2 weeks with us. Of course I felt the great need to show her HK, take her shopping and to eat at places I love. 

- We didn't do quite as many sightseeing things as I would have liked but as she reminded me I was still meant to be 'at rest'. One memorable day was the Ngong Ping cable car ride to see the Tian Tan Buddha. I'd seen in it 2005, pre- cable car and was keen to revisit. Living at the diametrically opposite end of the city meant a long-ish journey to get there. Finally on the cable car and up we go to find.....drumroll....the worst fog in days -  a visibility of almost nothing feet. Wandered around in the fog and came right back down. But at least we spent the morning talking, meeting interesting people and having a cable car ride. 

- I managed post drop off lie ins on most days as my mum reads late into the night and her late nights lead to late mornings while on holiday. As she rightly says the doorbell here does not ring 10 times between 6 and 8am and so it's far easier to sleep that little bit extra than in Delhi where a retinue of people ring the bell for one thing or another each day. 

- The continued cold weather makes lie-ins just the recipe. I look out of my window and see the dragon boats out there on the water, practicing to be top of their game. I curse myself a little for being a sloth and not partaking in such activities. The moment passes as I doze.

- I have a meeting this morning and am having to give up my lie in. Boo.




The sublime works of Margaret Forster

2016-02-14T18:33:51.815+08:00


One of my favorite authors died this week. Margaret Forster. She had such a wonderful way with words, letting the reader right into the rooms her characters inhabited. I wasn't a fly on the wall but instead a guest in the corner of the room, on a beautiful chintzy upholstered chair, watching as her 'people' lived full and interesting lives. She had this wonderfully clear view of the world and a capacity to elaborate the story on behalf of the many. 

I first discovered her writing in 2002, buying a book called 'The Memory Box' from a charity shop on Finchley Road in London. I remember only that it was a wet drizzly February day and that it was one of the days I had taken a random bus from the end of the road to the end of the line. I had wandered up and down Golders Green, eaten my sandwich on a bench and then walked all the way down to Finchley, peeking into shops as I went, ducking into others if the drizzle picked up pace. As the wife of a student, new to the city and with no job and limited resources the charity shop seemed like a welcome place while it rained. It was a treasure trove. I left with 4 books - one of them was Margaret Forster's 'The Memory Box'. I only recall many of these details as I pulled it out of my bookshelf this morning and find my name, the date and where I bought it all in my neatest handwriting inside the cover. It was a book that stayed with me, being read again and again over the years and the many moves. I bought a few more of her books from Amazon (notably 'Diary of an ordinary woman) and found others in other charity shops, each a gem. 

Over the years I returned to that and the many many Charity shops around London, each time leaving with a little piles of books that cost £1 or £2 each. Inexpensive books donated to charity by generous readers was always one of the highlights of my time in London. When it was time to leave I sifted through my many books and gave 50 books each to my top 8 charity shops. My own goodbye to a city that kept me in inexpensive books for a decade. I gave away most of the Margaret Forster's - but I kept two: The Memory Box and The Battle for Christabel. And tonight I'm going to re-read one of these. Margaret Forster, RIP.



Gong Xi Fa Cai

2016-02-08T18:41:29.115+08:00


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. 



This phone cover situation

2016-02-05T08:11:11.953+08:00

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. 




Childhood traditions 2

2016-02-03T09:08:55.952+08:00

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)[...]



Summer shoes

2016-02-02T16:46:28.723+08:00


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! 





Monkey year

2016-02-01T07:41:42.443+08:00

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.




Speed

2016-01-31T19:55:25.442+08:00

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.



2016...not the resolution one.

2016-01-12T08:45:47.426+08:00

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. 



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

2015-12-31T10:28:36.100+08:00

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[...]



Decorating decorating

2015-12-17T16:16:51.189+08:00

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 t[...]



When I don't set myself challenges...

2015-12-12T19:17:07.028+08:00

...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?