Makan, makan! (eat, eat!)
A couple weeks ago, Y (one of my best friends) introduced me to a fellow Singaporean via Facebook messaging. It went something like this:
Y: “Hey guys! How are you doing? Sorry for the late introduction, but N – this is J, my awesome Singaporean friend who will be moving to London soon. J – this is N, my awesome childhood friend who lives in London. I thought you guys could get together and go grab a bite once J arrives.
Now obviously since Y is a close friend of both of ours, I trust her judgement when she tells me that I should meet her friend as she thinks we’ll get along. Seeing as I’m half-Singaporean and J is full Singaporean, however, means that this is a safer bet than you’d think.
Food is important to everyone in that without-food-we-will-be-hungry-then-die-and-that-would-not-be-good sort of way, but to a Singaporean (or even half-Singaporeans as the case may be): food is a way of life.
We eat. And while we eat, we talk about food. And once we have eaten and can eat no more, we discuss where and what to eat next. We Singaporeans love food so much that we don’t recognise this three meals a day mumbo-jumbo. Three?! Ha! We can put away four or more without batting an eye. It’s not uncommon to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and then supper (late at night). One of my good friends, C, back in Sydney would often call me up between the hours of 12am and 1am. I would pick up the phone and more often than not, the first word out of his mouth would be: supper?
Oh, the good old days.
And because Singapore is the melting pot of cultures that it is, you are absolutely spoiled for choice in the lion city. Personally, I never eat western food in Singapore. It’s not that you cannot get a good European meal; it just seems so illogical to not take full advantage of the local offerings whilst travelling, especially when in a country that is renowned for its food.
My favourite places to eat are the hawker centres and kopi tiams – outdoor food markets where each stall sells just a few dishes which are generally different from the surrounding stalls. They can be found all over the country (all 699 km² of it), but most predominantly within residential areas.
Once there, you can wander around comparing the offerings and inhaling all the delicious aromas that drift towards you as these specialised cooks work their magic. The worst mistake you can make – especially if you’re as indecisive and enamoured with food as I am – is to arrive hungry. I am not fond of making decisions at the best of times, but when I’m hungry… I can walk lap after lap around a hawker centre simply unable to choose a dish because I want everything.
In any case, J finally arrived into London last Saturday and as discussed, we made plans to meet up in a few days time. Meetings were rescheduled on Monday, however, and when I texted J to see if she might want to meet up that day I received a slightly tearful phone call in reply. Clearly she was missing family and feeling a bit homesick, so we decided to do what Singaporeans do when… well, what Singaporeans do whenever. Eat.
An hour and a half later we were sitting at one of our favourite haunts: a Malaysian restaurant called C&R in the middle of Chinatown. As we tore into our dishes we discussed food (of course) and told each other a bit about ourselves. Food aside, I was surprised to find how much we had in common. The meal was punctuated with emphatic nods of agreement – wide-eyed, cheeks full, chopsticks suspended in mid-air – as the other spilled her story.
With our 3 o’clock meal packed away, we went for a wander (to digest, of course) whilst deciding whether to go have a cupcake at The Hummingbird Bakery. Did that sound believable to you? No, it didn’t to me either. The truth is we both knew that that was where we were going to end up; even before we lamely mumbled, “well, let’s see if we have space later” and “can also next time, lah“. Then there’s the fact that we just so happened to be ‘walking off’ our second lunch in the direction of – oh my, how convenient! – The Hummingbird Bakery.
Pathetic. But hey, we are who we are and we love our food, we do! Now if only we had Y here as well, what a merry little trio of food lovers we would be… isinit?
Telephonic numerals 0207 434 1128
Location: 3-4 Rupert Court Road, London W1D 6DY. It can be tricky to find at first. Remember, it’s just off Whitcomb Street (in between Gerrard Street and Lisle Street). There is another C&R at 52 Westbourne Grove (W2 5 SH). I’ve yet to visit this one, but it has reviewed well.
Opening hours Monday – Sunday from noon until 11pm (according to yelp.co.uk)
And? I’ve not had a bad meal, but one of my favourites – both for nostalgic reasons and for the fact that they do a decent job – is the Nasi Lemak (malaysian chicken curry with coconut rice, a boiled egg, ikan bilis [deep fried dried anchovy with peanuts] and a generous dollop of sambal).
THE HUMMINGBIRD BAKERY
Telephonic numerals 0207 851 1795
Location There are 3 locations in London to date: Soho (155a Wardour St), Notting Hill (133 Portobello Rd) and South Kensington (47 South Brompton Rd).
Opening hours vary from store to store, but they are all open 7 days a week from latest 10am until at least 5pm. Check their website for more details.
And? Red velvet cupcakes; what more is there to say? Oh, I suppose it may be worthwhile to note that they have a range of gluten-free offerings called ‘Made Without’.
Earlier on tonight, I made W (one of my flatmates) decidedly uncomfortable. Apparently the word ‘bra’ and discussions that contain this word make him feel rather uneasy. I must remember this in the future [cue sinister cackle].
The ‘discussion’ began with me telling him that I had wandered up and down Oxford Street all afternoon looking for a ‘stupid strapless bra’. Almost immediately a somewhat panicked look shot across his face… which I took to mean that I should continue with my ‘sharing’ – you know, just to see how uncomfortable I could make this poor guy (should we insert more evil chortling..? Perhaps later).
I explained that I needed a new bra for this dress I intended to wear for my birthday get-together; that the cut of my current ones weren’t right for the dress; that strapless bras are idiotic concepts, are never ‘perfect’ and that shopping for them is a bloody nightmare.
To his credit, W threw out a few comments and questions at this point. The guy clearly knows nothing about these things… which, given that he’s a 23 year old male, is none too surprising. Why should he know anything about strapless bras? He has no use for them. The only thing he’ll ever need to know is how to remove one and that… that I can assure him is a a hurdle that guys older than him still fumble over.
Nevertheless, I explained to him that no, “boobs are not boobs”; that they are shaped differently with some hanging higher, some lower, some towards the left, some to the right, some are close together, some are wide apart, one can be slightly or quite noticeably bigger than the other, and so on and so forth. I parleyed in somewhat less than mathematical terms the role each aspect of the bra plays and the incredible gravity of incorrect angles and lines and what-not. In other words… I said, “Dude, it’s so important, like I can’t even tell you”.
The sheer magnitude of the challenge of designing a strapless bra; the interminable list of responsibilities it must take on board and check off to be considered a successful product… cripes. I honestly don’t see how it’s possible to make a great one-design-fits-all strapless bra. The notion seems illogical to me. But what do I know about bra designing?
Lesson: Don’t buy strapless dresses or tops unless they work with a strapless bra I currently possess. It’s like buying “one-day-it-will-fit” clothes. No, no, no and no.
Also, don’t talk to W about bras. Poor dude….
Eureka! Wait, what was I saying?*
Welcome to the wonderful world of your 30’s. Your personal slide into forgetfulness and embarkation card into the land of wrinkle creams are here, ready and waiting for you. Cripes.
As it is the 16th of March, I have roughly 12.5 days left as a twenty-something. I’m generally fine with turning 30 although I have found myself occasionally pivoting away from nonchalance and into minor-freak-out-land. It’s this whole expectancy that by 30 one should have certain boxes checked and the fact that according to society’s standards, I’ve checked… well, none of them.
I do realise the idiocy of panicking because of a number that represents benchmarks that are defined by others rather than myself. I do. That doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that I am impervious to the odd bout of self-doubt and comparisons to others I know.
On the whole, however, I’m looking forward to it. I think our ‘twenties’ are a confusing time. Sort of like adolescence 2.0 — we don’t always behave more intelligently, but we do think we’re smarter and now have the money to be the idiots we couldn’t financially afford to be in our teens.
I think our ‘thirties’ (well, mine at least) will be a decade of increased self-assurance, heightened couldn’t-give-a-crap-ness and a generally more balanced level of emotional security. That’s not to say it won’t be fun and that there won’t be embarrassing mistakes and funny stories to recount. I mean it’s not like I’m getting a personality transplant, for blog’s sakes! I think I’ll just grow into a more… grounded version of me.
As if on cue, I received some samples from Olay in the mail this morning; samples of some sort of ‘super serum’ that claim to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles whilst firming the skin. Gee thanks, guys. For the record, I don’t need it yet. And, knock on wood, hopefully I won’t for a while.
I was fortunate enough to inherit my mom’s genes in this department and let’s face it… Asian women tend to age well. Generally speaking they look younger than they are right up until one day, sometime after the age of 60, they wake up one morning and Bam! They look much much older. My mom is – crap, she’s going to kill me if she ever reads this – over 60 and she looks amazing.
In fact, she looks so good that the rest of us in the family are slightly baffled. Granted, she does eat well and practically lives at the gym, but still! The woman is in crazy good shape and looks 10 years younger, if not more, than she actually is. She has also chilled out immensely from the feisty temperamental fire cracker that she once was. To top it off, she has a social life to rival my soon-to-turn-21-years-old sister. All I can say is that when I’m her age, I would be thrilled to look as good and be as outgoing and social as she is.
On that note: here’s to our ‘thirties’, the years that follow and improving with age!
*WordPress Topic #73: Grab the nearest book (or website) to you right now. Jump to paragraph 3, second sentence. Write it in a post.
Bonus: Make up a sentence to follow the first one, but make it go in an entirely different direction that the actual book or website does.
Topic #71: Write a haiku about something that drives you nuts.
That’s 5, 7, 5, right? Here’s my haiku then:
Huh. Look at that. A semi-snide correction in a neat 17 syllable package of 12 words. Perhaps I should only complain in haiku format from now on. Might help usher in a new more succinct era of communication for me… (uh, hello, Exhibit A?).
Apparently capitalising the first word in the second and/or third lines is a no-no (although acceptable in the first line) and the use of punctuation is controversial. That’s right. Punctuation. Controversial. And look at me, scandalously using an ellipsis and a dash [a mock gasp ensues]. Let’s try again.
I quite like doing this. They’re not the most elegant haikus. They are also lacking in any seasonal references and yes, there was not a single mention of whispering leaves or trickling streams. I am, however, getting my point across. Which is not the point of a haiku… but hey.
Okay, enough. Time to leave the haiku-ing behind and go apply for jobs. Joy. On a related note, my legs are seriously killing me from yesterday’s Vibe class… and no, I don’t mean that literally.
In a bid to keep up with the ‘Post a Week’ challenge, I was going to write a post in response to yesterday’s WP’s Topic of the Day “Chocolate or Vanilla?”. I was so uninspired by the question, however, that my writing just about put me to sleep.
But I like you. So I deleted it. And the second and third attempts too.
Instead, I’m going to tell you about my Vibe class at the Move Your Frame* studios today.
This was my first Vibe class since the doctor ordered me to rest my leg. I could not be bothered waiting another three weeks as he had suggested. I’d waited four weeks already and frankly, I’m sick of being asked to wait. The doctor, potential employers, the gas company, the bank’s customer service number… the list goes on. It really would be a nice change to have someone wait for me or even come to me instead… well, not the doctor… that’d just be weird.
In any case, my leg is feeling much better and I figured this even-slightly-motivated-to-exercise-shaped window of opportunity is not going to stay open for long. And so off to Vibe class I went. For those of you who are wondering why I’m telling you about some sex-toy sweat-training session, let me just say: get your mind out of the gutter! Grief… (but you’re not the first to ask/wonder).
A Vibe class is a circuit-type exercise class that utilises a vibrating gym machine. The machine looks similar to a treadmill, except that instead of the long sloped platform, it has a short (foot-and-a-half long), flat, vibrating platform. Classes tend to be small in size and are a maximum of 25 minutes in duration due to the intensity of exercising on these Vibe machines. Those are two huge selling points for me right there. Happy to suffer; just don’t let me suffer too long and in front of too many people!
I was a bit nervous going back in. I did come out, as always, feeling better than I arrived. Emotionally, I mean. Physically, I felt a bit sick: dehydrated and nauseated with jelly-like arms and legs. The walk home never felt so long. My arms were sore and where my legs ought to have been where these two foreign wobbly things that kept giving way under me. I was convinced that I was on the verge of having to roll home. Fortunately for cyclists in the area, I managed to drag myself home in a mostly upright position.
That’s one down and three to go for this week. Did I mention I signed up for their bootcamp? Well, I have and I think it’s a great way (in my economically-challenged state) of ‘forcing’ me go to each class as I’ve prepaid for the whole 4-week shebang. I have neck and back issues to work around which is always challenging whilst exercising, but them’s the breaks. It should be fine. Fingers crossed, abdominal muscled pulled in and shoulders down and back.
*MOVE YOUR FRAME
Telephonic numerals: 0207 033 1855
Electronic mail: email@example.com
Location: 29 New Inn Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3EY. Tip: New Inn Road is right between the Tesco’s and the petrol/gas station on Shoreditch High Street
Hours: Mondays – Fridays: 7am-10pm, Saturdays: 10am – 5:40pm & Sundays: 10:30am – 5:30pm
Transport: The closest tube stations are Old Street and Liverpool Street. The Shoreditch Overground Station is also close by and buses 26 and 48 (amongst others) will drop you off on Shoreditch High Street.
And? Classes start from as low as £6 and they constantly run specials deals and special classes.
In case you were wondering, the answer is chocolate. Why? Because as much as I love vanilla, I cannot fight the dairy-centricity (chocolate-loving, cheese-worshipping, milk-enamoured, cream-adoring…) that I inherited from my Swiss father. Plus, hello?! It’s chocolate. How many times have you heard, “God, I have such a bad vanilla craving!”. ‘Nuff said.
I’m posting this photo, not because it’s my best or most suitable ‘shadow-themed’ photo, but because I was actually going to include it in my previous post (marine-themed that it was) and then didn’t. So I’m posting it here. Because I can. And it fits the theme.
This photo is from a 2 week road trip that L and I took in 2009. We rented a car in Bath and drove up the east coast of England and into Scotland, through Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen all the way to John O’Groats, then back down through the Isle of Skye, Cardiff, Cornwall and finally back to Bath. It was an amazing trip filled with great memories and even though there were the odd moments of misadventure (like having to sleep in the freezing cold rental car and then breakfasting on crisps and 3p sandwiches that we’d thrown together from our pound-shop-rummage because we’d messed up our bank transfers and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with less than £5 between us), they just made it all the more interesting and memorable.
I recently received an email from a lovely woman in Australia who informed me that she would like to buy one of my photos to frame and hang in her home – best compliment ever! Anyhow, we’ve been emailing back and forth, hashing out the details with a bit of conversation thrown in for good measure. In her last correspondence she mentioned seeing a mother and baby dolphin. ‘How cool!’, I thought and proceeded to recant my own personal experience with dolphins which is decidedly less ‘cool’:
“I once found myself swimming next to a mother and baby dolphin in an estuary on the Gold Coast… I’m rather embarrassed to say that I freaked out at the sight of the fins careening through the water and proceeded to try running away (yes, RUNNING; it doesn’t work well underwater, trust me). Once on shore, they were long gone and my boyfriend at the time informed me – once the hysterical laughing (his, not mine) had subsided – that they had been dolphins, not sharks… yes, pretty special, I know.”
I’m not sure why I decided to share this rather telling and none-too-flattering story with someone I don’t really know… or why, for that matter, I’m now posting it here for anyone and everyone to read. Oh well. May as well continue.
This wasn’t the first time I tried running underwater. There was this one Christmas that my family and I were holidaying on an island in the Philippines. I decided to go snorkelling by myself and was rather enjoying myself until I spotted a shark. Not just the fin, but the whole absurdly toothy beast. 16 year old me panicked and ran. Underwater. Well, I tried. Attempting to escape from a harmless, metre-long baby shark which I probably scared half-do-death may sound silly, but A. it was a shark – who cares how big it is?! and B. how was I to know at the time that it was harmless???
Then there was the time that my sister and I were snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and I attempted to save her life from this nightmarish creature with metre-and-a-half long electric blue tentacles that were circling her with the predatory vehemence of a psycho killer. Turns out it was the string from her vest. Well, you hear the horror stories and (sharks aside) they always seem to be blue with tentacles in my mind. That being said, I’m surprised my sister didn’t drown, she was laughing so hard.
Wow. I’m so damn special sometimes.