Wednesday, December 31

"I fear that I'm hitting the end-of-year slump."

The moment those unguarded words left my mouth, I realised they were dead accurate. Supremely unmotivated to do anything, be it work or play. Not even the thought of boozin' and dancin' and countin' down can rouse me from pure apathy.

Sorry if I can't muster more enthusiasm than this, but here's wishing everyone a better year ahead.

Tuesday, December 30

Monday, December 29

"Tell me why
I don't like Mondays
I want to shoot
the whole day down"

Have this tune stuck in my head, thanks to Tori Amos.

Saturday, December 27

Either/Or questions inspired by Lord of the Rings

Legolas or Aragorn
Arwen or Galadriel
Shire or Lothlorien
Hairy hobbit feet or bushy dwarf beard
Eternal life or one lifetime of love

Thursday, December 25

No. of alcohol units consumed: 1/2. From a styrofoam cup at office do on Christmas eve
No. of Christmas presents: 1. A tray of Guylian truffles received at the office gift exchange, still unopened on my desk
No. of Lord of the Rings movies watched: 2. The Two Towers [extended version on DVD, 3 hours and dunno-how-many minutes on Christmas eve] and Return of the King [Golden Village Marina, 3 hours and dunno-how-many minutes on Christmas day]
No. of times Last Christmas has been heard: 238. Listening to it for the final few times now, before Christmas is officially over

Wednesday, December 24

“Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day
You gave it away”

Don’t send the music police to catch me, but I actually like this song and have it on repeat mode now on mp3. What a pity it’s only played at this time of the year. There are some fond memories tied to it, probably because no one ever actually broke my heart on Christmas before. Now, Valentine’s Day, that’s another story...

As for the pix of the snow couple and snow canine, I took it about a year ago, when I saw so much snow for the first time in London. Apparently, it was the heaviest snowfall in donkey years, but, typical London weather, it all turned wet and into mush promptly the next day.

Being a tropical gal at heart, I'm not dreaming of a white Christmas. But regardless of whether you celebrate this holiday, have a blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23

I usually hate posing for photos, unless when drunk and totally freed of all inhibitions. Or, as this photo shows, when running away from the office.

From observing the professional photographer at work, I've realised the key to getting people to bare their teeth naturally is not to say "smile" or "cheese". Instead, say "come on, hot lips".

Sunday, December 21

Been meaning to write about this “phenomenon” for a long time, but it’s too nebulous and fleeting to put into words. And for all I know, everyone experiences it but never mentions it cos it’s perfectly ordinary.

There are times when I close my eyes, and near-photographic images of particular places would float before my eyes, without any conscious thoughts or emotions accompanying them.

For instance, when I was in London, I would suddenly have this clear impression of standing at the busy junction of Orchard Road, just outside Borders, waiting for the traffic lights to change. Or I’d be right in the middle of Plaza Singapura, with shoppers rushing by me in the atrium.

Now that I’m back, I’ve been struck with London images. Walking down New Cross Road to the train station, with the dodgy mini-cab, kebab and fish-and-chips shops along the way. The grey and bustling alley opposite Charing Cross with the Oscar Wilde memorial that always seems to have fresh flowers on it, even in winter.

If I close my eyes and try to hold on to these intangible thoughts, I imagine I can almost smell the air. But the uncanny part is that these are not places I have particularly fond or even specific memories of.

Nostalgia is a strange creature, and it is the ordinary which sticks in the mind long after the extraordinary has faded away.

Saturday, December 20

Surprisingly sober pix from pre-Durian session. And yes, I got bangs. The jury is still out on whether I look adorable or like a big-headed village idiot. But still on the subject of bangs, I remember the following drunken conversation, pre-haircut.

Me: So do you think I should get bangs?
My lurve: Yes. You should sleep with the bartender if you really want to.

"Bangs" has become such a dirty word.

And moving swiftly onto the related subject of drinking. This is gonna make me sound v. Bridget Jones, but what the heck. I did indeed consume vast quantities of alcohol this week. As Ms Jones would say, v. bad.

Drink list
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

1 vodka lime
1 gin tonic
1 e33
1 watermelon martini
2 cowboys
2 illusions
2 apple shooters
2 champagne
4 lychee martinis
few mouthfuls of beer and unknown concoctions from jugs

Total alcohol units: 17
[According to a reputable source, the recommended number of drinks for women is seven a week.]

Friday, December 19

This is too good not to post, even though it didn’t happen to me.

My lurve was in the lift with an angmoh man and his daughter who looked about five. The girl then proceeded to stick her hand stuck down inside her panties and say very loudly and proudly: “Daddy, I have a vagina.”

Wednesday, December 17

"Duran Duran is over. So is my youth. I feel old and sad again."

SMS received at 1.57am last night after the highly-anticipated concert. My emotional friend was warbling most aggressively along to almost every song that night. It was a very expensive, $120 karaoke session for him. For the rest of us, it was a trip down memory lane, but filled with too many obscure songs that we couldn't dance to or sing along with. And like true old folks, we kept sitting down during the non-hits. Need to rest lah.

The pre-concert alcohol we were tanking up with didn't give a lasting high, so we only really screeched at the beginning when Simon & Co appeared. [He's still pretty limber for someone on the verge of 50.] And of course, at the end encore bit, when we kept going "flek flek" during The Reflex.

So what does it really mean, "The reflex is a lonely child just waiting by the park"?

Tuesday, December 16

I can always count on my ex -- the only one I’m still on speaking terms with -- to be brutally frank. And I’m glad we have reached the stage where we are beyond impressing each other and know each other so well that we can say anything without causing offence.

Just met up with him after my haircut and I was fluffing my hair and fishing for compliments: “Nice or not?”

His reply? “Nope. If you look gorgeous, I’d tell you.”

His description of my baikar? “Your feet look like you wore wet socks for a week. And then turned them inside out and wore them for another week.”

His take on me still being single? “Your COE is running out. All these newer, faster models are coming out and you cannot compete.”

His reprimand when he knew I was tempted to have a fling with unsuitable attached man? “You are immoral.”

His reason for not reading my latest story in the papers? "I was going to read it. Then I saw it was written by you."

But of course, I give as good as he does. I was about to apply lipstick after dessert, when he commented that it was unseemly. I retorted: “I don’t care. It’s only you.”

And I love reminding him almost everytime we meet: “I’ve never dated a handsome man before”.

Monday, December 15

Last phone call last night

Him: Darling, when can I see you again? I miz you.
Me: Erm, I'm quite busy.
Him: Meet me tonight? I knock off at 1am.
Me: I can't. Have to work tomorrow.
Him: Monday? I'm off.
Me: Busy.
Him: Tuesday leh? I'm also off.
Me: Erm, I got something on.
Him: Okie, you SMS me when you free?
Me: Erm, okie.

I think he finally got the message.

It was fun while it lasted, almost like being a teenager again, except that I was such a good girl I never did have a misspent youth.

I knew I had to end things before things got too far. Furtive late-night meeting at the playground. Stealing time off to catch an afternoon movie. Silly messages about the speed of turtles. As I told someone, "He's the boy I never had when I was a teenager."

Sunday, December 14

"I've just been drifting for a while now. It's time for me to fall in love."

A lazy drizzly Sunday afternoon spent in bed, catching up on my emails. Finally got round to looking at this site with quotes eavesdropped on the Tube, which is where the above came from.

More gems:
"I think you have put me off sex forever."
"Excuse have some sleep in your eyes."
"This love's not a game, you know?"
"When I was young I was so short that my legs didn't reach the ground."
"Gordon, have you ever considered that I might not be gay?"
"I've gone mouldy between my legs."
"There is a touch of vomit still on your lapels."
"Of course I love you. I tell you every bloody day."
"I live in a creative vacuum. It's a Dyson."
"I am very nearly cured of happiness."
"I love eating my scabs. I can't help it."
"I am not your father. Stop calling me dad."

There's something about British humour. Somehow, I doubt I can overhear such stuff on the MRT.

All of a sudden, I feel like I'm back in my little flat in London. The weather is cold outside, I'm nice and toasty under the blanket. I'm all alone, and I just made excessive amounts of pasta to feed myself for both lunch and dinner. Has it already been a year since I spent winter in London?

Saturday, December 13

Ahhh 15-day abstinence from alcohol has been ruined by half a bottle of e33. Burp. It's gonna be downhill from here. 'Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry.

Tuesday, December 9

The best part about working from home is not having to spend an hour in front of the wardrobe and the mirror before starting work. Just roll outta bed, brush teeth, bundle up hair like an auntie, and turn on my laptop. Some more can leave TV droning in the background with cooking and decor shows. And of course, can be barefoot, which is very important to baikar people.

The worst part, though, is that my bed -- with its cool satin blue bedsheets -- is now calling out my name like a siren. [When I say siren, I mean like those scantily-clad Greek women which try to tempt Hercules. Not those on top of police cars.]
Have been kinda out of this world for the past more ways than one.

The more prosaic reason is that I've been sick with flu-like symptoms and also drugged out by painkillers because baikar problem has flared up again. Having feet the size of pig's trotters is no joke. Especially when I had to walk for three hours around the departure lounge of the airport to scout for shopping deals. Or when I had to tail a princess-for-a-day contest winner for 12 hours, watching her get pampered with free shopping and manicure and beauty makeover and limo and French food.

But I've also had my head stuck in the clouds cos I spent the whole weekend in bed reading the Princess Diaries -- all five books! -- and wishing my parents were king and queen of some small European country so I can live in the lap of luxury, wear a pretty tiara and rule over the peasants. Also watched Spirited Away -- at last! -- and was totally captivated by the haunted magical theme park.

Why can't real life be so ethereal? Why must it be so...real?

Wednesday, December 3

Tuesday, December 2

I thought the Brazilian wax was already passe, since some foreign mag recently had an article titled "Bush strikes back". But apparently some people haven't heard of it, cos a clueless guy just told me today: "I thought a Brazilian wax is some sort of candle."
Second day of detox: I have fallen sick. To comfort myself, I made a steaming pot of Chu Qian Yi Ding. Not exactly detox food, but I'm feeling cold and miserable, and am still working from home. And have to go to the freezing airport later for story-cum-photo-shoot. Brrrrrrr...

Monday, December 1

First day of detox: Cha soba with two dubious-looking pieces of tako sushi, downed with green tea, for lunch. Feeling very weak and unable to work now.

Sunday, November 30

The Retro Wedding Party of the Year

Actually, it's the only wedding I've attended this year, but still it's the best. Its not everyday I can be pink A-go-go girl and do Saturday Night Fever moves with a dude who has pubic hair all over his head. But somehow, the photos are lousy. Don't even have one of the bride and groom together. Drats!

Anyways, congrats to Mousey [the glam one in the shades and shiny gold belt] and Mark [the invisible one]. May married life be one big party that never ends.

Saturday, November 29

Elegantly Wasted

So Wong Kar Wai. So mood. So far removed from reality.

Alcoholics Not So Anonymous

The truth about Friday night. We were smashed and we were shrill. We broke a champagne flute and we took pictures of it. We also sent an SMS to someone named Spike after 3 am and inquired after the health of a bartender named Wong Lang Fong.

But it was still the bestest girl's night out in a long time. Men come and go, but girl friends are forever.

Friday, November 28

It's Friday and I'm thirsting after a watermelon martini. And then I realise that some moron has experimented with a pork martini. I've lost my thirst AND my appetite.
For those still looking for a 100% perfect love. Or just looking for a taste of Haruki Murakami.

Thursday, November 27

I like doing such silly pop quizzes when I'm stressed. Or when I'm not.

Animal Love Test

1. You are attracted to those who are warm and obedient.
2. In the process of courtship, the approach that would make you feel irresistible is patience, never give up on you.
3. The impression you would like to give to your lover is loyal, faithful, never change.
4. You don't like it when your partner is emotional and/or too moody; and you don't know how to please him/her.
5. The kind of relationship you would like to build with your partner is traditional, without saying anything, the other will know what you want, both of you communicate by hearts.
6. You care about the society and morality, you won't do anything wrong after marriage.
7. You are afraid of marriage, you think it would take away your freedom.
8. At this moment, you are quite self-centered; you think of love as something you can get and trash anytime you want.

This test is so inaccurate, only the last part is true.
Misery is...

...writing a cover story at the pace of a turtle at 2 a.m. while waiting for email replies that never arrive. And knowing I have to be awake in four hour's time to head out for a photo shoot.

Wednesday, November 26

Double happiness is...

...having both lunch and dinner with my two lurves. Those twin evils of detox and diet can wait.
Satisfaction is...

...when a nude painter, a good-looking bald man and a red-taped bureaucrat agree to a photoshoot. I love it when things fall neatly into place.

Tuesday, November 25

Happiness is...

...taking a nap on a drizzly public holiday in my lurve's bed, gorging on oily chicken at Boon Tong Kee, dozing off after dinner on the same spot on the bed.

Sunday, November 23

This past weekend is memorable only for the astounding number of lychee, mango and dunno-what-fruit martinis consumed. At last count, it is somewhere in the region of 15, but I may very well be wrong. I have problems with numbers even when I am sober.

Still on the topic of martinis, this is a word of advice from a highly reliable source inside Zouk: Do not order watermelon martinis except on Fridays.

Friday, November 21

More Either/Or

In the front seat or back seat?
Beer belly or receding hairline?
Bad dresser or loud mouth?
To spoon or be spooned?

Wednesday, November 19

There is this game we play called Either/Or, with naughty questions such as "Would you rather be kissing or holding hands?"

Boxers or briefs?
Massage or make-out?
Shower or bubble bath?
Too loud or too fast?
Too many ex-girlfriends or zero girlfriends?
Bad breath or BO?
Too big mouth or too big nostrils?
In the park or in the swimming pool?

Quick contribute some more such conundrums!

Tuesday, November 18

Spot the similarities?

Equally wasted the past two Fridays. These drunken episodes are fast becoming a blur in my memory.

Only pretending to look drunk at Sunday champagne brunch. Or should it be pretending to look sober?

Monday, November 17

SMS @ 10pm, last Thursday
Him: Darling I miz u
Me: How much do you miss me?
Him: A bit+++
Him: Do you miz me?
Me: I miss you so much it hurts. Hehehe
Him: Why leh? I would never hurt you.

SMS @ 3pm, last Friday
Him: Darling what are you doing? I'm having my "breakfast" now.
Me: Working. Don't distract me ok? Why you wake up so early?
Him: Can't sleep without you.

SMS @ 4am, last Saturday
Him: Darling wan to meet me...I knock off soon.
Me: Sleeping
Him: I miz you darling...I heart pain

Why can't I stop responding to the SMSs of someone who
(1) takes it for granted I'm going to sleep with him?
(2) is never awake the same time as me?
(3) known to be a player?
(4) moves too fast for comfort?
(5) does not understand that "I miss you so much it hurts" is a joke?
(6) thinks "miss" is spelt as "miz"?
(7) uses the phrase "I heart pain"?

Thursday, November 13

When I'm awake, he's asleep. When he's awake, I'm asleep.

At this rate, when are we ever going to sleep together?

Tuesday, November 11

The weather is perfect for cuddling in bed with another warm body...does it matter if we have nothing in common besides a love for sleeping?

Sunday, November 9

Haven't been so wasted for a very long time. I may say that everytime [the last time being a mere three weeks ago], but this was seriously bad.

Very unglam, I was on the verge of throwing up, which I'm proud to say has yet to happen in my entire boozing career. Also ended up hugging some bastard whom I don't even bother talking to when I'm sober. Flirted shamelessly with semi-cute bartenders for free champagne, but failed. Staggered home and only managed to shrug off my top but not my jeans before losing consciousness. Woke up to find mascara smudges all over face still caked with makeup and phone number of someone named Alvin in my pocket.

And guess what? I'm in the office working now -- with sandpaper-like skin, unsexy glasses, slow reflexes and a massive hangover -- and have a phone interview at 7 pm. Somebody just kill me now, please.

Tuesday, November 4

Walking around with a dagger jutting out of my back sure is a nasty feeling. And I'm not even talking about Halloween.

Saturday, November 1

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Note: We had more fun dressing up for Halloween than at the actual party at Zouk last night.

Tuesday, October 28

It really shouldn't bother me...but it does.

Got some hate mail regarding a story I wrote about how tall people earn more money throughout their lives, simply because of their height. [According to the study done, tall people make about US$789 more for every 2.5cm annually, in case you want to compare with your colleagues.]

A reader who insisted that he is "not so short" sent a nasty email condeming me for running down short people and ended with: "Why don't you write something about a discepancy in a person which I think you can be the main subject -- Ugliness. Round fat chubby face with a pair of eyes that look like a mongoloid."

It's a low blow, and I'm still reeling from it.

Sunday, October 26

I have no friends. Please be my friend on Friendster.

So what if it is a mutual admiration society? I like receiving glowing compliments and licking my friends' asses.

Saturday, October 25

How much would you want to know?

Suppose someone from your recent past just got married. Would you like to have all the details about his wife, how they met, where they went for their honeymoon?

So I found out that a certain’s someone’s new wife is apparently very nice and very rich, that they met only this year, that they flew a whole bunch of friends to Phuket for the wedding and just got back from their honeymoon in Mauritius.

A couple of my friends actually knew all these juicy details but thought it would hurt if I got to hear about it and so didn’t tell me.

Call me a masochist, but I want to know everything, not only to satisfy my curiosity, but also to make me face up to the reality of it. Sure, there was an unpleasant twist in the heart when I heard, but I’m a big girl now, I can handle it.

Friday, October 24

Ever stayed awake for so long that sleep becomes a distant memory?

Have been awake for more than 21 hours straight, doing nothing else besides work and griping about work. In less than a month back on the job, I've already lost 2kg. This is better than Marie France Bodyline. [By the way, the ad never fails to crack me up: "Can't shake off the shadow of your pregnancy?"]

Going to try to sleep now for a few hours before heading to the dem office in the morning. There goes my Deepavali.

Sunday, October 19

Usually, when people ask “What did you do over weekend?”, my answer is “Nothing much”. But yesterday, I had such an action-packed day that I spent the whole of today practically horizontal, just recuperating.

Saturday’s itinerary
10.30 am Breakfast at KFC. Surprised to discover that it no longer has the breakfast menu, so had the new Bandito Pockett, which was very good.
11 am Go-kart racing. Arms aching from non-power steering and face red from accidentally mounting the grass verge and going against the flow of traffic.
12.30 pm Karaoke at K Box while having lunch. Or rather, my lurve sang and shovelled fried rice into her mouth at the same time, while I just sat and laughed at her inner pop idol.
2 pm Express manicure and pedicure. Now I have pretty hands and pretty feet.
3.30 pm Quick $10 haircut at Far East. Waited 15 minutes, haircut took another 15 minutes.
4 pm Shopping at Tangs with help of personal shopper. Wonderful discovery as it is fast and free.
5.20 pm Whirlwind tour of Singapore Art Museum. Must-see exhibits include Yoshioka's Chair in a vast white room filled with silica and a video installation called Feeling So What.
6 pm Quick cooking course for dinner parties. Learnt to make sayur lodeh, pandan leaf chicken and achar. Chef kept disparaging my efforts at chopping cucmbers.
8.30 pm Eating of food from cooking class. Yum.
10 pm Witness bar-top dancing at Coyote Ugly. Or should it be buttock dancing?
10.55 pm Catch clubbing bus to next destination. Forced to down sambuca poured straight down the throat. Clubbing bus is fun, must go again next month.
11 pm Bored at China Jump.
12 am Bhangra night at Indochine. Surrounded by beautiful Indian men and women with cheekbones and noses to die for. The most dance-able music in the world.
2 am Totally smashed at Zouk. Remember falling down and being picked up by a pair of clammy hands, but nothing else.
2.30 am Being sent home. Seal's Crazy blasting at maximum volume, with my lurve doing her best karaoke auntie inpersonation in the back seat. Many police cars on the road, shouted "Fuck da polis" at every one of them.
3 am Throw clothes all over the floor. Collapse in bed. Make-up still on.

So, what did you do over the weekend?

Saturday, October 11

A quiet Friday night supper turned into quite an adventure, which ended with a trip to the police station at midnight.

My lurve* and I were at the hawker centre at Adam Road, after my night assignment, greedily eating lala and ice kachang.

[* I have three lurves, all of them gorgeous babes. And no, I’m not lesbian. We just lurve each other very much.]

Suddenly, she realised her bag, which was placed beside her, was moving and this short Chinese man in red was walking very quickly away with it.

With lightning quick reflexes, she threw down her chopsticks and chased after him. I was so engrossed in searching for the last lala among the shells that I didn’t even notice him take her bag. As he almost reached one of the exits, she shouted: “Stop that man!”, just like in those Crime Watch programmes.

Immediately, this giant of an Indian man in a blue T-shirt sprang up from his seat with amazing speed and dexterity, considering how difficult it is to slide in and out of those hawker centre benches, and gave chase. No one else even budged from their seats, including me. My reflexes were so retarded that my chopsticks were still poised in midair. All I saw was a flash of red, and then a flash of blue. Anyway I couldn’t run with my bai kar in heels.

The snatch thief abandoned his loot and ran for his life. My lurve retrieved her bag and sat down. By now, everyone in the hawker centre, which is circular and sort of like an amphitheatre, was staring at our table.

We thought that was the end of it, and were relieved that her wallet and everything else were intact. As we were excitedly rehashing the brief chase -- by this time, we were both clutching our bags protectively -- the Indian guy returned. He had chased the thief all the way out to the road and caught him. Our hero!

Holding him by the collar, our hero ordered the thief to sit down and told us to call the police. While waiting for the police to arrive, the thief kept protesting that he had accidentally hooked the bag and he ran only because he was afraid we’d accuse him of stealing it. By this time, we were really the centre of attraction, and hawkers kept coming up to us to ask us what happened.

When the police finally got there -- it seemed to take very long cos the guy kept insisting his innocence so tiresomely and the Indian guy had to stand over him and command him to sit down and wait -- we handed the thief over and asked for the guy’s name to thank him. And it turned out that he was the Tampines Rovers player, Sasikumar. He seemed to be very paiseh at being recognised.

Because of his public-spirited actions, there was an award ceremony this morning, and the media circus descended. They are going to be on radio and TV and in the papers. They are gonna be stars for the day.

I’m so thankful that he didn’t attempt to snatch my bag, cos with my slow reflexes and total concentration on the lala, he would have definitely succeeded in getting away. The unfortunate thief must cursing himself to have targetted a quick-thinking journalist and to have attempted to out-run a fleet-footed soccer player.

Wednesday, October 8

This is a public service announcement. Make sure your Mom [and grandmothers and aunties] gets a mammogram done. In case you haven't realised, this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For the longest time, I had been nagging my Mom to go "squeeze breasts", as she calls it, but she refused. Her illogical reason? "If I die, I die."

She has this fatalistic streak that says there is no cure for breast cancer, even though I've tried to brainwash her. Finally, I managed to convince her to get her breasts squeezed. I think the fact that my grandmother recently died of breast cancer was the push she needed.

So, I made an appointment for her and marched her down to the polyclinic. She said it was extremely painful -- and she has a very high pain tolerance level -- but for about five seconds only.

The results will only be ready in about a month's time, and my Mom keeps imagining the worst. Just waiting for the all-clear now from the doc, and we'll be home free.

Saturday, October 4

A stay-at-home weekend -- the first since I got back. Lazed around in my PJs with my hair clipped up like an Ah Soh, without a scrap of makeup. Not many people get to see this "At Home Suzanne" look.

Also the first weekend that I haven't touched a drop of booze. Oh dear, that makes me sound like some kind of alcoholic.

Friday, October 3

In deep mourning now cos I was forced to take photo for my byline and my fat cheeks are the size of rice bowls. No amount of flattering/flattening lighting on the part of the sweet photographer could disguise my fat face.

But there is always a faint chance I can persuade the photog to reshoot when I've shed the excess baggage. Think I have dropped 1 kg just after three days of work, cos of skipping meals, running around, lack of sleep, stress and then finally food poisoning today. I can't wait to become as skinny as my overworked colleagues.

Wednesday, October 1

I fear that this is the beginning of the end. First day of work was super busy and super stress, and I don't see things easing up. Pant pant pant.

Between churning out fluffy fashion pieces and assorted stories about weekend stuff -- which is what the ed has assigned as my beat -- and actually having a life, I doubt I'd have much time to write rambling rubbish here.

But supreme skiver that I am, I'm sure I will squeeze some time out, probably during office hours while neglecting actual work. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 30

Last day of freedom. Indulged in a final lazy mid-morning roll in bed, leisurely read The Straits Times while having breakfast, played at being one of those Ladies Who Lunch with a girl friend, had an afternoon snooze and a relaxing facial, and made a delicious, if slightly too soupy, carbonara dinner for my family.

Tomorrow, I head back to the world of slavery...I mean journalism. I've been assigned two stories even before I've officially started work. Just call me Isaura. I can hear the whips cracking already...

Monday, September 29

At the crack of dawn this morning -- meaning 8 a.m. to a jobless bum like me -- my mom hauled me out of bed to go to Batu Pahat, which is in the boondocks of our friendly neighbouring country of Malaysia.

A three-hour ride later, I realised why we were going all the way to pray at this particular ulu temple. She wanted to consult this supposedly all-seeing and all-knowing medium about my “future success”.

Knowing my mom, this was less about success in my career and more about the success of my love life. But I feel so vindicated because the medium chided her instead for being overly anxious and pushy. Ha! That will give me ammunition to rebut whenever she starts on one of her weekly nagging sessions about so-and-so who is married and has kids already [unfortunately, a lot of people my age got married while I was away], or how I’m too choosy [she doesn’t believe me when I tell her certain of my male friends are gay], or -- this is my favourite of all her rants -- that I’m too unapproachable and driving men away [as if I have queues of suitors waiting outside my house].

From now on, instead of ignoring her or resorting to sarcasm, I will just calmly remind her that I am “still young”, “need more time to look”, and “will eventually find a very good husband”, in the very words of the medium she trusts so much. Only time will tell if the “prophecy” will come true.

Wednesday, September 24

“I’ve been away lah.”

That has been my standard excuse for almost everything since I got back.

Q: How come so fat?
A: I’ve been away lah. Too much potato and pasta.

Q: You don't know how to go to Lau Pa Sat?
A: I’ve been away lah. Forgot where it is.

Q: Why is your parking skill so horrible?
A: I’ve been away lah. One year never drive car.

Q: Have you been to the Esplanade?
A: I’ve been away lah. It haven’t opened yet when I left.

Speaking of the Esplanade, I finally found my way inside that durian. Previously, I thought that it looked pretty hideous, like a squashed up Sydney Opera House wannabe. But it was tastefully done and pretty with those blue twinkly lights. And the waterfront was fabulous for sitting and chatting without having to pay for a coffee. I would have taken pix, but my dear cousin who was my tour guide there [even though it was her first time too] said it is very suaku to do so.

And call me suaku, but I am quite taken with this choc concoction at this chocolate place at Esplanade. You are presented with what looks like a mini aromatherapy burner, a metal spoon-straw contraption, a miniscule jug of milk and a saucer of what looks like Hershey choc chips, and basically you DIY to make molten chocolate milk. I’m sure what I just described has been written about to death because of its sheer novelty value, and everyone has tried it already, but hey, I’ve been away lah.

Sunday, September 21

Reasons to get married [and some of these are actual quotes from people I know]:

a. “For sex on demand.”
b. “Money. Lots of it.”
c. “To get to wear the white dress.”
d. “So that can buy a flat lor.”
e. “Sometimes the condom doesn’t work like you want it to.”

Feel free to comment with any other plausible reasons I might have left out. True love, perhaps?

Tuesday, September 16


My hair will never be this long again. Just a twinge of regret after cutting it.
[If you can't figure out which is the "before" and which is the "after" photo, I can't help you.]

Monday, September 15

Before I left for London, I swore to many friends that I would not return with (a) an ang moh accent, or (b) an ang moh boyfriend.

Yep, so here I am, still speaking in 100% Singlish and still 100% single. Everyone I've met up with so far agrees that I'm still me, just fatter. Does that mean I'm boring, rigid or consistent?

Thursday, September 11

Today is Lantern Festival -- Or is it called Mooncake Festival? Mid-Autumn Festival? Whatever! -- and today is also the second anniversary of September 11. Not that both dates mean much to me, just thought I'd mention the coincidence.

Wednesday, September 10

When I was young, innocent and foolish, I totally believed in the concept of “Friends Forever”.

As I grew older, more cynical and wiser -- or so I thought -- I found out that there was no such thing. I learnt to cherish whatever times I had with friends, because they were so fleeting.

Now that I’m practically ancient, totally jaded and have realised that I can be as foolish as a teenager at times, it has finally dawned on me that friends are both fleeting and forever. They may move in and out of your life, you may meet every day or once a year, but once you have formed a bond of this nebulous thing called friendship, it can never be broken.

To my old friends -- you know who you are -- there are still many years worth of long lunches and leisurely dinners ahead, filled with gossip and laughter.

Tuesday, September 9

I was all geared up to sign up for motorbike lessons, but chickened out at the driving centre today. Too intimidated by the instructors hollering through loud hailers, too feeble to handle the bike, too broke to pay for lessons, too vain to endure helmet hair, too discouraged by the comments of the bike-riding ex-boyfriend.

No pretty pastel blue Vespa for me then. Nevermind, I can still dream about my Volkswagen Beetle. In pastel blue too, of course.

Sunday, September 7

"Welcome back to the new paradigm."

That was the one sentence that stuck in my head from Friday night's drunken debauchery. Even in my non-sober state, what my bear-hugging, rib-crushing friend shouted over the pounding music made sense.

It was just like the good ol' parteee days of yore -- champagne, lychee martinis, red wine, endless number of shots, and lots of lansing -- except it was different. The drunken vibes and throbbing music and all that posing of Beautiful People at Zouk were unchanged. But among my friends, certain people were now polite strangers, others could not be in the same room, and there were so many new faces that I could barely keep track.

But nonetheless, I am "so happeee" to be back, which was what I kept squealing to my lurves the whole night. I wonder how long the euphoria of being the Homecoming Queen will last.

Friday, September 5

I had no intention whatsoever of contacting a certain someone when I got back. And I didn't. There was no point with so much crap between us, and besides, I'd purged his number from my phone. So why should it disturb me to hear that he had gotten married while I was away?

Once, he told me about a friend of his who got hitched out of the blue, and I exclaimed: "He's the last person I thought would get married." But in my heart, I was telling him: "You're the last person I thought would get married."

Guess I was wrong.

Wednesday, September 3

I’ve only been back for three days ah? I feel totally re-integrated already leh.

First thing I did on my first day back was to go temple to "bai bai" my grandma with pears, grapes, egg tarts and kopi-o. I don’t know what’s the significance of the food selection. Felt totally inept, as I had no idea that I have to light three joss sticks to the Sky God first, that only vegetarian food is allowed, and that you have to leave the food on the altar for a while so that it can be "eaten", before taking it home to be eaten for real. Got the usual nagging from my mother about the proper way these things are done. The tradition of ancestral worship is literally dying out with my generation.

Second most important thing was to get reconnected with a new phone number, which I still have problems remembering. SMS-ed my friends until my thumb went numb. And I think half my SMS quota and free airtime are gone, but I don’t care cos we’re in the same timezone and paying local call rates.

And I have delicious lunches and dinners and suppers lined up, so much so I don’t know what local delights I want to eat first. But I predict saturation point will be reached soon at the rate I’m going. Already had egg tarts, prawn noodles, otah otah, yong tau foo, Japanese food and all kinds of weird Chinese pastries that I don’t know how to spell in English. Trying not to overdo the bingeing, since every single person I've met has exclaimed [some rather tactlessly too] that I'm so fat.

Just weighed myself and I've put on 2 kg, apparently most of it on my face. In order to conceal my fat cheeks, I got a much-needed hair cut today. Hopefully, I can hide behind the curtain of hair and the layers will give the illusion of slimness. But the upside of being fat is that some of the excess baggage has deposited itself on my boobs, according to one of my lurves. For once, I have a hint of cleavage to show off.

Which I suspected was what the DOM [dirty old man] on the bus was staring at. Either that or the loud error BEEPBEEPBEEP my virginal EZ Link card made attracted unwanted attention. So paiseh.

I’ve taken my own sweet time to post an update cos I still am undecided about continuing this blog. On the one hand, I still have a tiny number of friends reading this overseas and I don’t even meet up with some of my Singaporean friends that often. So this is a good way to stay in touch without needing to bombard them with emails about my boring life. Plus, I won’t have to kick this blogging addiction.

But on the other hand [this is like some GP essay weighing the pros and cons!], I don’t think I’d have much time for such long-winded and detailed descriptions of my day once I get back to work as a journalist with no life. And I feel kinda weird writing about all these things which must seem so familiar to everyone in Singapore, which are actually familiar to me too, yet totally foreign at the same time.

I guess I’m going to just bumble along and write as and when the mood strikes. There’s nothing wrong with being wishy washy wat!?!
London time is catching up with me. Or is it my body adjusting to Singapore time? Jet lag setting in, eyes closing, mind slowing down. Later...

Sunday, August 31

"You never really leave a place you love. Part of it you take with you, leaving a part of yourself behind."

In about six hours, I'll be leaving London. Chances are, I probably won't be back for a long time.

On the eve of my departure, regardless of the fact that my bags were not packed, I still dragged people out for a three-hour production of Edward II at the Globe. Good thing I have such an obliging friend. Basically, I just wanted to watch something, anything, in that wooden theatre, and I was not let down. The play was fantastic, even though it was by Marlowe and not the Bard, the building really set the mood, despite having to twist my neck to catch the action because of all the wooden beams. Or maybe that just made it seem more like the 16th century and authentic.

Even though my empty luggage and cartons were clogging up the narrow hallway, my dear flatmates pretended not to mind, and we had a nostalgic farewell dinner, followed by a crazy photo session involving five people wielding five cameras. We all promised to stay in touch with the best intentions, but deep down, we all knew that we were all going our seperate ways.

Needless to say, with all that frantic last-minute activity, I barely slept because I didn’t get my packing done till 3 am. But I’m pleased nonetheless, as I almost finished crossing out every inane item on Zann’s pre-departure list.

One hundred days of a million memories -- I can’t believe it’s over.

The tree outside my window.
The leaves will fall soon,
but I won't be around
to catch them...

Saturday, August 30

I've had my fill of Sex and the City and Cosmo. [Both are banned in Singapore in case we are led astray by all that sex.]

Just watched what was my final episode of the show tonight and threw away about nine month's worth of Cosmo. Not sure if the quality of both the show and the mag are going down the drain, or I've simply become more jaded about this love/sex/relationship thing, but they no longer, erm, turn me on, for want of a better phrase.

A guy friend once accused me of having a skewed view of men formed from too much Sex and the City and Cosmo.

Him: You shouldn't believe everything they say.
Me: But how else am I supposed to know what men are thinking?
Him: Just ask!

Now why didn't I do that, instead of wasting time reading trashy mags and re-watching those smuggled DVDs?

Friday, August 29

From What We Bought, by Robert Adams

Never had a meal alone before in my year in London -- until yesterday, when I was so hungry for lunch that I succumbed to sausages and mash.

Solitary meals in restaurants, surrounded by lovey-dovey couples and laughing groups of friends, used to bother me, and I know of people who are too daunted to eat alone or who always manage to have some sort of company. But I've grown to think of it as a mini adventure for one and I'm even rather proud that I'm so good at being alone.

The trick is to carry a book -- and try to look as mysterious as possible.
Just 10 minutes and three Tube stops away from my destination -- Hampstead crepes! -- the whole network was hit by a blackout. My face was dem black, as I was so near yet so far and so hungry, but everyone else behaved like it was an everyday occurence that the entire underground system of a major city had just gone kaput.

I feel so privileged that I was one of 500,000 commuters affected by the blackout. Apparently, the same thing which happened in New York had happened here, albeit on a smaller scale, and the power grid was wiped out. Coincidence?

There wasn't even a bleat of complaint as we were herded in a sheep-like manner from the station. People just made their way to the bus stops and stoically waited and waited and waited in the drizzle. I finally arrived thirty minutes late, after being stepped on and rained on, to partake of those long-awaited crepes.

But of course, after stuffing our faces with five different types of crepes, it was time once again to confront the horrors of London transport. So many Tube lines were closed that I would have had to change trains four or five times to get home. So I decided to brave the bus route instead. Big mistake.

It took me two hours to complete my journey -- I just got back -- which was more than double my usual time. More than 40 minutes was spent freezing at various bus stops, and I had to stand throughout the journey. My slippered feet were so numb that the only feeling I had was when people trampled on them, which was pretty often, because the buses were packed with people all wearing the same beleaguered expression on their faces.

There were sighs of commiseration all around, yet, there wasn't even a murmur of anger. It was all very British stiff upper lippy. A friend who had to wait 40 minutes for the Piccadilly line said people were talking to each other -- an unheard of phenomenon -- and generally being good-natured about it. As he put it: "I was beginning to see how the English survived the Battle of Britain."

I'm so glad to be going home to good ol' SMRT and SBS soon. Can't wait to buy my very first EZ Link card.

[In case you're wondering why I keep going on and on about being cold and wet, well, just so you know, the temperature is a chilly 14 deg C. The Great British Summer has fizzled out after that brief sizzle, and the not-so-great London drizzle is back. And I had over-optimistically packed all my warm jackets and shipped them off, so the next few days are gonna be cold ones. Despite constantly getting played out by the fickle weather, I never learn my lesson.]

Thursday, August 28

Hirst's Shark Tank, by The Little Artists, £595

Besides Lego Land, I also had half a mind to go see Tracy Emin's unmade bed and Damien Hirst's sharks at the Saatchi Gallery. Am in full swing tourist mode now -- even ventured into Harrods to buy useless tins in the shape of the building for my numerous aunties -- but not enough time for everything on my list.

Regretfully, I'll have to sacrifice the mummies at British Museum and, even more regretfully, the yummy Four Seasons roast duck. And will just make do with online viewing of this quirky Lego version of Hirst and his infamous shark.

Tuesday, August 26

How homesick am I?

I seem to give the impression that I am desperately longing for home, but to be honest, that is just the easiest emotion to express. The other feelings I have over my impending departure are too mixed up to be sorted out and put into words other than "I dunno".

What I do know is that, despite missing my family, friends and food, I’m not utterly and totally homesick yet because I haven’t even watched the VCD of Eating Air I packed along with my packets of BeeBee to stave off any potential pangs.

[For those not in the know, Eating Air is a “motorcycle kungfu love story”. It is my ultimate favourite local movie, because it is so unabashedly Singaporean. That I used to party with the director, and may or may not have kissed one of the actors have absolutely nothing to do with it.]

There is, of course, the longing for all the familiar physical things -- cabs whenever you need them after a night out, hawker food at any hour, shops that open till 10 pm -- but there is also something more intangible. Something in Milan Kundera’s Ignorance springs to mind: “Nostalgia seems something like the pain of ignorance, of not knowing. You are far away, and I don’t know what has become of you.”

When I first read that earlier this year, I thought I was hard-hearted and emotionally crippled, because it didn’t touch me at all. But as time went by, I realise that the pain of ignorance is the hardest to bear. Of not knowing what is going on. Of being in the dark about my friends’ lives. Or simply of not knowing which hawker centre my family went to for dinner the night before.

There have been times when I wondered if I’m frittering away my life here, while friends back home are buying property [some for the second time], getting married [some for the second time], having babies [some for the second time], and generally ticking off items on the Milestones Of Life checklist. In the meantime, what have I been doing? Taking a break from “real life” and tearing up that list.

I remember interviewing an actress who spent a year studying in London and had such a memorable time that, before she left, she got a dragonfly tattoo on the back of her hip [what is that part of the body called anyway?] so that she would never forget. My time here may not been that tattoo-worthy [is anything ever worthy of permanent decoration of the body?] but I doubt I’d ever forget it.

Sorry this has been one long rambling post, expressing run-of-the-mill thoughts that anyone who has spent some time away must have had at one point or another. But indulge me, this may be one of my last posts. I haven’t quite decided whether to continue when I get back. But in any case, I started this as a hundred days of countdown, and there are only six more days to go.

Photographing the photographer while waiting for the parade to start at the Notting Hill Carnival.

Why do people keep walking into my pix?

Groin grinding...Now that is something you wouldn't see at the Chingay parade.

Finally, a semi-decent photo. By that I mean one with no heads blocking the shot.

I thought my photography skills were improving, but I was mistaken. None of these fully capture the carnival mood, the colourful feathers, the thumping Carribean music, the jerk chicken smoking on the grill, the garbage piling on the sides of the road, the people meandering around aimlessly. It was supposedly the biggest such parade after the one in Rio, so how come I didn't feel it?

Sunday, August 24


I want to be Lady Penelope. She's smart and stylish, lives in an English manor with a butler and is a jet-setting undercover agent with cool gadgets. And she has the perfect outfit for every occasion. What more can a girl want?

I only recently discovered her on daytime telly on this cult '60s show called Thunderbirds, which was filmed using model airplanes, doll house furniture and puppets on string. Every episode, these five brothers, their father, Lady Penelope and her butler rescue some hapless idiots in peril with high-tech planes and other equipment which I'm sure are of great interest to the boys.

Me, I'm too busy ooh-ing and aah-ing over Lady Penelope's pretty pink Rolls Royce, the ingenious props, tiny chairs and tables and even tinier utensils, and Lady Penelope's many hair and costume changes. Did I ever mention that I have this little thing for miniatures?

Friday, August 22

What I have been doing:
-- Sleeping from dawn to noon, then taking guilty afternoon naps
-- Eating junk food all night as a form of stress relief
-- Feebly exercising in room using mineral water bottles
-- Surfing, blogging, emailing, eBaying and generally wasting time online
-- Reading How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, a real-life loser lit by Brit journo in New York who got sacked ignominiously from Vanity Fair
-- Frying chicken, making soup, tossing salad, counting remaining packets of CQYD
-- Playing Solitaire and trying to break my Tetris high score
-- Watching Bargain Hunt, Cash In The Attic, House Invaders, Ready Steady Cook and other crappy daytime telly

What I haven’t been doing:
-- Writing a 5,000 word essay on SARS

Wednesday, August 20

"Why do you want to go to Lego Land? Singapore is just like Lego Land."

I totally agreed with those words of this guy I met from Delhi, even if I was a bit taken aback by how apt the analogy was. Manufactured, sanitised, and creative in a four-colours-allowed-only kind of way. Why haven't I seen the similarities before? Is that why I have this affinity for Lego since young? And what does it mean that I actually won a Lego competition when I was 10?

More importantly, does the fact that I dream of Lego Land like a kid represent a sub-conscious longing for home?

Well, these questions are all moot now, since my plan for a day trip to the theme park in Windsor has been scuppered. The only other person I know who is gets excited about Lego Land -- we were literally hopping as we chanted: "Lego Land Lego Land" -- is too far behind on her final thesis, and so am I.

By the way, this Lego-mad friend is also Singaporean who has been away for too long. It makes such perfect sense now. We just want to go home.

Tuesday, August 19

It's not even my country, so I don't know why it bothers me so much that he's running for a second term. Oh, right, Iraq...that and because he looks moronic.

I've always considered myself to be apathetically apolitical, but apparently, I've moved towards the liberal left, according to the world's smallest political quiz.
Since this oestrogen-fueled blog has a largely female readership, I thought I’d help a lonesome friend by putting the word out that he is actively looking for a wife. That’s the best I can do for him, seeing that he’s in Sydney, I’m in London and, as we like to mock lament, there are “gallons of ocean” between us.

No experience required. Must be willing to learn.  Age not an issue. Preferably educated, and with some career aspirations.  Position to be filled immediately.  All applicants should send a detailed CV including past or other relevant experience for further consideration.  Applications which are accompanied with a photo will have priority for reviewing.

Maybe I should consider putting up an ad too.

Monday, August 18

Judge books by their covers. Judge them by their titles too.

Drawn by the unfamiliar pairing of words, I picked up Amnesia Moon and now my head is swirling with images of the post-apocalyptic road trip of a man named Chaos and a girl covered in brown fur. The way I’ve simplified the plot makes it sound so juvenile, but it is a curiously gritty yet dreamy story about searching for a half-remembered love.

The author, Jonathan Lethem, also wrote Motherless Brooklyn, which is another fantastic title. [The story is about a small-time private eye with Tourette’s Syndrome, in case you are interested. I’m not really into the whole hardboiled detective genre, but the excellent Edward Norton is set to make a movie of it, which was why I hunted down the book in the first place.]

Other equally evocative book titles...The Heart is a Lonely Hunter...Sputnik Sweetheart...Of Love and Other Monsters...One Hundred Years of Solitude [to which this blog vaguely alludes].

I already have the perfect title for the novel I’m never going to write -- Kismet Kittens. Now all I have to do is come up with some semblance of a plot revolving around felines and this thing called fate.

Instead of wasting time writing an imaginary book, I should be spending it on my overdue SARS essay. At the moment, all I have is a working title -- Global Coverage of a Global Outbreak. It’s not brilliant, but it will do for a school paper.

Sunday, August 17

Cruisin' down the River Thames at midnight and seeing a side of London I'd never seen -- and probably never would again. The twinkling lights on Battersea Bridge, the blue and white arches underneath Tower Bridge almost near enough to touch, the gothic facade of Westminster Abbey bathed in amber lights and reflected in the water. [All I have are mental images, cos the actual photos turned out to be shite. Too dark, too bright, too shaky, too cold, too fat, too tipsy.]

It was possibly the last time my classmates would meet, and it was rather magical, but it was loud noisy fun at the same time, most likely due to the beer and vodka we smuggled aboard. At one point, someone was going to marry someone else for a green card, someone threw an empty Smirnoff bottle overboard for a cheap thrill, and someone offered me a lousy joint that kept falling apart.

Finally, it is hitting me that I only have two more weeks to store up such memories.

Saturday, August 16

"The devil makes work for idle thumbs."

That's the slogan for Virgin Mobile's text messaging service, and it shows mental hospital patients going out of their minds from boredom and getting up to all kinds of mischief, such as stapling the nurse's skirt to the desk.

While twiddling my thumbs about eight hours ago -- Hotmail was down, probably because of the virus taking revenge on Microsoft -- I wandered over to eBay. Being the ultimate bag lady, I had to put in a bid for this vintage clutch. It was just one little click of the mouse, I didn't think I was gonna be the only bidder or actually win the auction.

Now, I have to pay up £4.99 for this impulse buy, even though the more I look at the picture, the more hideous the floral patttern becomes. The devil makes work for idle thumbs indeed.

Friday, August 15

"We miss you. We miss you. We miss you."

At least I think that was what my three lurves were screeching drunkenly down the phone at some party I wished I was at too. My phone made an ominous sharp BEEP and then went dead before I could screech back: "I miss you too, my lurves!"

Thursday, August 14

MIKRO House by Sam Buxton

Four museums in one day. Which, knowing me, means four gift shops in one day too. Good thing most museums are free and I get pretty generous concessions at the others. One of the privileges of being a student again.

Breezed through Tate Modern to see my fave upside-down piano crashing from the ceiling with a discordant DONG for, perhaps, the seventh time. Also couldn't resist browsing through the cavernous gift shop and ended up buying a touching little children's book that can be read in five minutes.

Walked half a mile along the Thames to make a brief stop at Design Museum to check out this intricate "doll house", cut cleverly from one piece of aluminium. Everything about it appealed to me -- miniature, home decor, technology, DIY, useless, accumulates dust -- and I was so tempted to buy it, even though it was only the size of my palm but cost £65. Ended up buying a teeny model Vespa as a substitute.

A hop and a skip away was the newly opened Fashion and Textile Museum, with an exhibition My Favourite Dress. So much promise, but such a disappointment. With 70 big names such as Donna Karan, Donatella Versace, Vera Wang and Vivienne Westwood contributing their favourite designs, you would think there would be plenty of pretty frocks for a vain girl like me to drool over. But it felt like an ego trip for these designers as they went on about how successful that collection was or which celeb wore which dress. Wasted my time, money and energy. And the gift shop was lousy too, with overpriced vintage scarves and the usual crappy postcards, posters and calendars.

Final stop at the National Gallery, cos my friend wanted to buy some Van Gogh stuff for his girlfriend. So it was a targetted sweep through the massive museum, looking for the gallery with Sunflowers in it, then zooming straight to the gift shop again. But the souvenirs were all so revolting, with his paintings printed indiscriminately on jigsaw puzzles, erasers, ugly knapsacks and even umbrellas, that we couldn't find anything worth buying.

Commercialism need not be crass; done tastefully, us consumers can be suckered into buying almost anything. And I'm probably displaying my shallow side here, but my fave museums are those with well-stocked gift shops.

Tuesday, August 12

While sorting through the junk I managed to accumulate since Day 1, I found these botched passport pix, taken on my first day in college. I cannot stress how much I hate having my photo taken, but my retarded actions in the photo booth, captured for posterity on film, does provide some degree of amusement.

Monday, August 11

Aiyoh, it is so comforting to revert to Singlish. We had a post-National Day celebration, and being typical Singaporeans, it revolved around food, even though a barbecue during the hottest day since 1875 wasn't exactly the coolest idea.

We didn't wear red and white or sing Count Money Singapore, though we did consume obscene amounts of seafood and used "lah" very frequently. We all honour our dear motherland in our own little ways.

Sunday, August 10

How can someone so beautiful be made to look so ugly? Just saw Ralph Fiennes on stage, and he is scrawny, scruffy and slightly moth-eaten. But he is brilliant as the tortured priest figure in Ibsen's Brand. I'm strangely moved by his portrayal of the eternal struggle of trying to please God, even though I'm not what you might call a "holy" person -- or even a regular "theatah" goer.

Saturday, August 9

It suddenly occurred to me that our national anthem is not called Mari Kita, on today of all days. How's that for a bit of patriotic spirit?
Word of the day: disestablishmentarianism

No idea what it means. Heck, I have no idea what the media journal it comes from is trying to get across. Fruitless day trying to get some readings done by staring at the page until a significant word leaps out, like this:

Such a stance welcomes the distance created by the disestablishmentarianism of the commercial media, although it remains uneasy at the consequent predisposition to see established institutions become the object of constant media scrutiny and attack.

This method of "reading by osmosis" works -- sometimes. Other times, I study by "reading through physical contact". This involves putting putting my face in close contact with the book and closing my eyes, usually for eight hours or more.
Being quite the instant noodle connoisseur, I couldn’t resist trying this heavily-advertised Brit product called Pot Noodle. It is not unlike those Cup-A-Noodle, except that instead of your usual chicken and prawn flavours, you get something ang moh like bacon. So the soup that tastes like it was made by pouring hot water over crisps from Marks & Sparks. To top off it off, there is a packet of tomato ketchup, which according to the instructions, you add two minutes after the boiling water, so the whole goopy mess turns lurid pink. A bizarre sensory experience, not entirely unpleasant because of my love of MSG, but not one to be repeated.

Feeling very deprived of my usual source of MSG, cos I'm down to my last three precious packets of BeeBee. It is a crisis of enormous proportions and I'm not sure I can survive.

Friday, August 8

A greedy friend from back home, though not as greedy as me, asked what local delights I want to devour first -- and has selflessly offered her services as a makan kaki. So pleased to have company for gluttony.

I am still making my food list, which already covers an entire side of A4, but the Top 10 positions are constantly in a state of flux. At the bottom of the list, though, are udang curry and tahu goreng, as I gently coerced my Korean flatmate to try "traditional" Malay food for dinner [at the most untraditional price of S$36 each], so that is one craving sated.

Felt instantly transported back home from the first taste of the white rice mixed with coconut milk in the curry. It helped that the heat wave was still on, so we were just the right degree of sweaty and sticky. And being served by cute Malay waiters and surrounded by scary wooden masks masquerading as decoration, it didn't feel like London at all.

So near, yet so far away.

[In a rare patriotic mood, hence the colour change. Just for this special National Day weekend only.]

Thursday, August 7

[Weather complaint #5729] Today is the hottest day since 1990. All the news bulletins have that as the top story [more important than Jakarta bombing, so you can tell it is big news], gloating that it is a record-smashing 37 deg C and showing mad English people jumping into the fountain at Trafalgar Square. The only reminder of the wet weather of just a week ago is this persistent sniffle I've been nursing, which has evolved into a phlegmy coughy thingy.

"It's so hot. It's just like my home," exclaims my Thai flatmate, newly arrived in London and still able to be surprised by the fickle weather. To try to cool off, I've made some blackcurrant jelly -- "Less than 10 calories per serving," the package promises me! -- but it refuses to set, so I can't eat it. Boo. But never mind, my Korean flatmate just busted my diet by offering me Snickers ice-cream. Yum.

We have been dressing more and more skimpily every day, and the point of decency is about to be breached if this heatwave continues.

Tuesday, August 5

Not everything is in Technicolor

[Clockwise from top left] Permanently parked car; "Jesus Loves You" proclaims my neighbour down the road; no train in sight; a few doors away from my flat.

Sunday, August 3

"Sunny day, everything's A-OK..."

How does the next line of the Sesame Street song go? Half a day in the sun has put me in a, well, sunny mood, especially after sniffling the past few days.

The flower market at Columbia Road never fails to put a smile on my face and make me wish I can fill my room with arum lilies, hydrangeas, gerberas and gorgeous artichoke blossoms which I never knew existed. I always thought artichokes were just ugly vegetables with icky edible hearts.

Anyone who has watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory won't be able to forget the fantasy sweets shop, with jars upon jars of mint humbugs, caramel toffees and other mouth-watering goodies. I was bugging this Brit friend who lives in the outskirts of London to show me a traditional sweets shop, but he says even the one in his little English village has gone out of business. Well, I came across one today, much to my delight. Hope it doesn't go the way of our friendly neighbourhood mamak stalls. Are there any more around these days?

I love the chaos of Brick Lane, with all the weird junk on sale, such as ice-cube trays in the shape of penises, the dingy curry houses which all have chicken tikka masala on their menus, and the famous 24-hour bagel shop with endless queues. And posters plastered on every available space on the brick walls along the lane.

Ah, happiness is a day out at the Sunday markets with a cheery friend, a most satisfying salt beef bagel, four second-hand books for £10, a packet of yummy smoked organic tofu, and lots of sunshine.

Now I'm gonna spend the rest of the day humming the Sesame Street theme song and trying to dredge up the rest of the lyrics from some repressed corner of my childhood memories.