Right now

I am…

Feeling blah because I can’t seem to find people to interview for an article I’m supposed to do.

Following a random blog trail to distract me from the blah.

Obsessed with the Mughal period.

Looking forward to a classical concert I’ll attend on the weekend

Thinking about lunch. If the rain holds, it will be a burger.

Wondering if I’ll actually exercise this evening. Last night was a washout.

Largely at peace.

This post was written before lunch. I had the burger. The post was inspired by this one that I came across on the blog hopping mentioned above.

Long weekend happy

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Day 58: 14 April

I was born in the 80s and grew up on 80s music classics such as the music of Madonna, Dire Straits, George Michael and the like with a bit of 70s thrown in and later 90s music. I never quite grew out of this music and till today, it’s the genre that I love dancing to and which never fails to perk me up. So imagine my joy when I discovered the 80s channels on iTunes Radio. The downside is that I’ve slid so far back into the 80s, I don’t think I’m ever going to catch up with contemporary tunes.

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Day 59: 15 April

I had discovered this restaurant in the mall near my office a while ago, but hadn’t been back for a long time. It was a pleasure to revisit on a whim and find the food as delish as ever.

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Day 60: 16 April

I discovered Janet Evanovich’s books later and never looked back once I did. My current problem is figuring out where I left off after a long hiatus. So it made me doubly  happy to not only get my hands on a copy but also to have hit on exactly the one I needed in the series.

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Day 61: 17 April

Finally, I broke the news to my office that I’ll be leaving. It was a bittersweet and slightly scary moment (because out of the generosity of my heart, I’m giving much longer notice than I need to, and I hoped they would not replace me before I wanted to go), but I was overwhelmed by the warm reactions from my colleagues on the news that I had got the fellowship.

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Day 62: 18 April

The Easter weekend is a long one in Hong Kong. Before we had kids, we’d travel during this period, but we’ve discovered the joys of staying put and making short excursions around our city. We bought an annual pass to Ocean Park, the local theme park, and went twice during the weekend – once on Friday and again on Sunday. Needless to say, the kids loved it. The park is supposed to be very crowded on weekends, but our strategizing worked and we didn’t have to queue up much.

I had two happies that day, because V unearthed the sausages from Goa I had brought back from India. A neighbor I had taken some Chinese candy for was off to Goa the weekend I was in Mumbai and she brought sausages back for me. I very nearly didn’t bring them back to Hong Kong because I was concerned about the weight of my luggage, but I’m so glad I did because it’s a simple dish to prepare and I loved it so much I had it with a bun for breakfast, with rice for lunch and dinner, and with bread for breakfast the next morning.

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Day 63: 19 April

Took Benji for an interest class in my office neck of the woods. It’s always nice to spend one-on-one time with each child as they really bloom under the attention (which translates into talking non-stop). Benji is pointing to the Lion Rock in the distance.

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Day 64: 20 April

We went back to Ocean Park and this time paid a visit to the pandas. I’m a total fan of pandas, and was more excited than the kids watching Mei Mei or was it Ling Ling chewing on bamboo.

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Day 65: 21 April

Tim Ho Wan, a Michelin star dim sum restaurant, opened in Tseung Kwan O. The whole family went for breakfast and the food lived up to its name because the kids belted it – on their own! – like dumplings were going out of style. My favourites were the spinach and beef dumplings pictured here as well as the pan-friend spinach and shrimp ones.

TMI post

I mean it. This post is kinda gross so now’s the time to leave if you’re easily grossed out. Though obviously now you’re going to stick around to see how gross it is, which is fine but don’t blame me, I warned you.

So remember how I said I was on antibiotics for a urinary tract thingie which I was convinced was not a urinary tract thingie and therefore I was on antibiotics pointlessly (though not entirely pointlessly because I had a boil on leg and later developed a cold which benefitted from the antibiotics)? Well, after the semi-pointless antibiotics course was over, I still kept wanting to pee ever so often, which was fine until it kept interrupting my sleep and then I decided enough! because my beauty sleep is sacred. There, I said it.

So I dragged my ass (or my hoo-ha to be exact about it) to one urologist who confirmed my belief that my problem was not an infection so much as something related to my bladder function, and then back to my GP to bludgeon him into writing me a referral to a urologist because the one I saw wasn’t covered by insurance and I wasn’t going to bankrupt myself on paying for the tests required when insurance could pick up the tab, and then to a second urologist, who was very sweet only the line to the elevator up to his building went around the block. Yes, it’s complicated and that’s just the getting to see the doctor part.

The short of it is I landed up having tubes stuck in my nether orifices to measure muscle control. I think. I was more worried about the back entrance, because I’ve never had anal sex and don’t want to either. So I did not cherish the idea of a tube in my asshole. The nurse assured me this would be less painful than the catheter in my urethra and she was right. Huh. Who would’ve thunk. The insertions weren’t that painful but then I’ve squeezed a baby out.

The problem though came when I had to pee with the catheter still in. I just couldn’t do it. I tried making susu noises as if I were a kid. The nurse left the room. I tried imagining running water. The nurse tried actually running some water. Nothing. I had 400 ml of liquid in me, which is more than I have peed in ages, and I know this because I spent three days measuring the amount I pee in a mug (yes, fun times). A minute ago my bladder felt like it was about to burst, but faced with the prospect of peeing with a tube stuck in there, my brain decided to stall. Finally, after the nurse manually started draining the fluid out of my bladder my brain decided it was okay to let go, since I had already failed.

Bah. Because it was too late and I had to repeat the procedure. The nurse assured me this was common. But this time I was determined to not fail and kept reminding my brain that it could do it. And after a small pause, it came through. Literally. I felt a strange glow of achievement. As if I had done something incredible, when I had only produced some pee and not really produced it because the pee was not pee but water that had been manually pumped into me. But whatever. I did it, okay?

I must mention here, since we’re being all award-ceremony like, that I could not have done it without the awesome nurse. I mean the woman’s job is to help people pee, and she’s so nice about it. She never giggled or went ew once. Infinite patience and concern and all that. I am always amazed that people sign up for nursing and then are not perennially grumpy as I would be had I do deal with people’s pee and poo and take attitude from doctors.

Anyway, now I don’t feel like peeing so much any more. I think having a tube stuck down it scared my errant bladder into submission. Huh.

 

 

 

Happy week

Day 53: 7 April

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After ages, my health let up and I started walking from the MTR to office again. Having not done this for so long, my body is welcoming the physical activity.

Day 54: 8 April

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Easter is almost upon us. V’s aunt sent some Easter-themed goodies for the kids, which I must admit I’m kind of monopolising. What? Candy is bad for kids. Adults too, but my health is a lost cause anyway. The point, though, is why do these egg-shaped chocolates make me happier than the usual square-shaped pieces?

Day 55: 9 April

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Had a lovely lunch with Office colleagues during which I spent most of the time sharing kids’ schooling woes with one of colleagues. In between, someone suggested I try pigs’ ear and I did and it was… interesting and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It tasted like cartiledge but firmer. Fine, as long as you don’t picture the ear.

Day 56: 10 April

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Had lunch with my favourite colleague who quit last month. I didn’t expect us to keep that much in touch, because I’ve noticed that often these office friendships fizzle especially if they’re cross-cultural, but so far we’ve been meeting for lunch once a week. Helps that she’s not working yet. Her family recently adopted a cat, and we oohed and it’s cute to see her in the indulgent parent role.

Day 57: 11 April

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The kids love rummaging in my photo drawer, somewhat ruining the photos but I’m too lazy to stop them. This time they each collected a stash of their own baby photos and very proudly showed them to the other people at home. It got a tad competitive when they kept demanding more photos of themselves so as to up their pile.

Day 58: 12 April

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Met a friend for dinner and had one of those much-needed no-holds-barred conversations about the state of our respective marriages. Much alcohol and bawdiness was involved.

Day 59: 13 April

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Spent a lot of quality time with the kids, despite being quite hung over. In the morning took Benji to a cooking class I had booked. Before the class, we shared a chocolate milkshake at a cafe. Benji shares my love of eating out in nice-looking restaurants. It was so cute to see him light up, and to spend time with him just us. The cooking class was fun too but he takes a long time to warm up to new adults. The pancake we made was lovely and was something even I think I could replicate at home. In the evening, went to the park with them and then later, we just hung out on the bed, while Benji built enormous towers of Lego and Mimi clicked photos of him with my phone, including this one.

 

Get real

OMG, I am so tired of the ubiquitous exhortations to be a “real” something or other.

We are all familiar with “real” parents, particularly real mothers, who are distinguished from their unreal counterparts by breastfeeding, never allowing screentime, doing crafty things, always being there, feeding their children quinoa/ragi, never using a disposable diaper, possibly homeschooling. I think.

Then, we have the ‘real’ women who are those that presumably have curves (never call it fat) and don’t wear obvious make-up. The thin are immediately consigned to the ‘unreal’ because ,you know, they’re barely there anyway and also they make us ‘real’ ones insecure. And the ‘real’ men who still open doors and pay for dinner and wear well-cut suits, disregarding those rabid feminists (never mind that feminists are probably likely to rush through the door with a backward nod to whatever important discussion they are off to instead of battling over custody of door-opening).

Then, there’s ‘real’ food, which apparently does not contain chemicals (except that everything is actually chemicals only, ‘organic’ after all are compounds that contain carbon ha!), Let us all forget that food with no preservatives, grown near you, sans pesticides etc is expensive because it lacks economy of scale and cooking takes time and many people, especially people with lower incomes, do not have the luxury of that, but how can that be, because the poor especially the rural poor lead exactly the simple lives we ‘real’ people aspire to, except without the backbreaking labour and lack of infrastructure and maternal and infant mortality stuff of course.

And now, there’s ‘real’ travel, which is about immersing oneself authentically in local culture as opposed to being tourist, except lest face it, if your immersion is shortlived you’re a tourist no matter how much you try to distinguish yourself from chattering hordes and your hosts probably find you as annoying as anyone else.

Can we just recognize that this ‘real’ is a subjective category, a fetishized one of our own making, and as nouveau, pretentious and exclusionary as any other category? You know what’s real? Everyone and everything that exists as they exist. In as much as real can exist anyway.

 

 

Narcopolis

narcopolis

I love books on Bombay so this one was right up my street. It covers a facet of the Bombay netherworld that normally finds a mention in Bombay books – the drug trade. Only this book deals with the subject romantically from the point of view of the user and the street purveyor rather than the gangster overlord.

Many reviews love/hate the extended first sentence that apparently goes on for several pages. I didn’t notice. It seemed perfectly natural to me. Then again, I’m a fan of Virginia Woolf.

Each character is unique and interesting if perilously flawed, not least because they are opium users. Almost all are erudite and philosophical, which might be the result of the drug or the cause of drug use.

The book meanders into the stories of the characters – Dimple, the hijra, Rashid, the chandu khana owner, Rumi, the middle-class man with a violent streak, Salim, the goonda, and the narrator Dom. Of all of them, I found Dimple most compelling, I’ve never felt a hijra character so natural, humanized and non-caricatured.

To hook me further, there’s a side story on a Chinese character that delves in the Cultural Revolution period. This character teaches Dimple to swear in Cantonese, with the Chinese words spelled out in English, which was very useful for me because just the morning I read that part, I was in a taxi and was thrilled to understand the swear words the driver used when a minibus stopped right in front of us.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s an episode with a painter called Souza, who is very reminiscent of the artist Francis Newton Souza who I was obsessed with last year. It was interesting to see this artist referenced in literature.

That’s it, I guess. Read the book.

Mad about the Boy

So it should be quite obvious that I’m a fan of Bridget Jones’s Diary. Perhaps fan is the wrong word. I kind of thought I was Bridget, down to being thrilled when the brand of ciggie she smoked was introduced into India and adopting it right away. At some point, I believed I had turned into Magda, the Smug Married with shades of Sharon the ranting feminist, whose terms ‘mentionitis’ and ‘emotional fuckwittage’ I use in everyday life, but in the end, I think I’m mostly Bridge. So obviously, I was gagging for the latest installment and while most of the reviews weren’t overly positive, I still had to see for myself. Here are my thoughts:

-        Initially found the book quite annoying because Bridget is 51 but seems to still have the insecurities of a 30-year-old. Fifty-year-olds please raise your hands if you still feel as at sea as when you were 30 and then we can all roll over and die. But I’m still in my early 30s, despite having been convinced by husband that I’m 35, and I feel quite content about all the things Bridget seems restless about. Or does this only apply if one is cast back in the dating arena/find oneself sans spouse?

-        So you know how as one grows older, the age which one considers ‘old’ seems to get pushed back. Well, it seems I consider 50 old. Or rather, I find it harder to picture a 50-year-old woman with toddler children than I find it picturing her dating a 30 year old man.

-        The parts I loved were those related to motherhood. In this I still identify with Bridget a lot, because she seems as at a loss and chaotic in this role as all the others and that makes me feel less bad about self and recent slacking off. Also, I realised she doesn’t have full time job and then I felt better. Yay.

- Even at 50, the old insecurities in the dating game seem to be the same. Though apparently, by 2013, one is allowed to be more forward, the whole process seems fraught with insecurity.

-        Bridget on Twitter is genius. It’s an update on her flirty conversations with Daniel but with added cluelessness.

- When I read the summary, I thought the romance with a substantially younger man was weird, but the way it played out was quite natural.

[Spoiler alert!]

-        The death of Mark Darcy is a convenient way to freeze him in memory as Mr Perfect. From my current cynical standpoint, I kind of wish this book had portrayed the reality of marriage after seven years and two kids but that might kill the genre altogether I guess.

-       In the end, the book upholds the fantasy of Mr Darcy, a white knight mixed with shades of Daddy, who tells you what’s what and ultimately saves the day, resulting in you being both abashed and intensely turned on. This is deeply unfeminist but the reason I identify with Bridge, apart from her scattyness, is this fantasy. And from the looks of it, I’m not alone in this.

If you haven’t read the book yet, and don’t want to know what happens in it, don’t read the comments.

Happy it’s spring

Half of this week, I was dazed and confused. The latter half, I felt I could see the sky again.

Day 42: 27 March

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This is a very bad picture of my favourite Hong Kong dish char siu faan (BBQ pork rice). It helps that it’s available at the canteen for a very reasonable price. The days when it’s cooked to perfection for that price always make me happy.

Day 43: 28 March

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Got all squiffy in my killer black dress and low peeptoe heels I bought in Bombay. Very pleased that the pedicure is still going strong.

Day 44: 29 March

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Mother of all thunderstorms which the kids watched in shock and awe. Their reactions – fear mixed with inability to tear eyes away from the spectral spectacle – was my high point of the day.

Day 45: 30 March

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I don’t do chores that often because I don’t need to, having two very efficient helpers at home, one of whom is like a mind-reader. After ages, got down to washing my own brush and comb. Strangely satisfying.

Day 46: 31 March

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Pedicure still going strong and happy with second pair of black heels acquired in Bombay.

Day 47: 2 April

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I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel to Mayil Will Not Be Quiet, and I’ve totally given up all pretense that I’m saving it for the kids. It’s all for me me me. Children’s lit or YA or whatever, I am going to reread it. Obviously Mayil is the one I identify with the most, but each character is so special. Get your copy on Flipkart or the Tulika website. Actually, the happy from this book lasted for two days. GB, Can we have trequel please?

Day 48: 3 April

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Reading this was long overdue and while there have been many not-so-flattering reviews (I think, that’s the general impression I get), I enjoyed it. Yes, it’s not on par with the first Bridget book, but there’s lots of enjoy. I’ll do a separate post on it, since this one has become gargantuan.

Day 50: 4 April

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Benji’s school sports day. I’m not thrilled with his school or the sports day, but there was a moment when V was down on the court dancing with Benji and I looked at them doing the silly steps ineptly and my heart just filled with love and joy and I teared up. It’s very hard to rationally explain the why of kids, but basically it comes down to moments like these. Such a simple thing, but your heart just expands and fills to the brim in a way that very few other things offer. Yeah, kids are work but the good bits are so so good in a way that almost nothing else can compare and the good bits are every day, they keep coming.

Day 51: 5 April 

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Had a breakthrough conversation with V over breakfast and then frolicked outside with the kids. High point was pointing out a spider in this tree trunk. “why is it not moving,” they asked. “Because it’s asleep,” I improvised, though it was quite possibly dead. And the kids began singing in unison: Go to sleep, little spider, go to sleep.

Day 52: 6 April

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Another beautiful day out in the great outdoors. Finally, it’s spring. I love being outside, breathing fresh air, in any weather. Hong Kong makes it very possible to stay indoors and V takes full advantage of that, but I choose outside even in a drizzle. We went to this park for the first time, and in addition to have a course for racing remote controlled cars which was obviously a hit with Benji, it has these huge sloping greens which are a change from what’s usually available in Hong Kong.

 

 

Antibiotibot

I just finished a 10 day course of antibiotics which had followed a break before which I had been on a five-day course of antibiotics. The best part is that I don’t think antibiotics really solved either issues, though they may have ameliorated them as a side effect which I don’t think was the intention. I know the docs are playing by the textbook, but it’s so boring how doctors almost never listen to one.

I waver between completely overhauling my diet and eating bland, entirely dairy and sugar-free sludge and fuck-it-tis-not-so-bad because it isn’t. My problems are niggles-ish but they’re there. All the while I think of this virtuous friend who went vegetarian and does yoga and meditation and claims to never fall sick. Hmmm though even when I ate super healthy with nary a chocolate in between thanks to my mum and did athletics every day, I fell sick every 15 days. Oh dear.

Anyway, the point was that while I absolutely loathe antibiotics and the way they make me feel, which is dazed, confused and perennially on the point of throwing up, they became such a part of my routine that today when I didn’t have to take any (partly because I refuse to go back to the doctor in case more are prescribed) , I kind of missed them. Also, I have this theory that I didn’t fall sick through the kids’ sicknesses because I was already taking antibiotics (unintentionally) preventively as it were. And all along I’d been convincing myself that a large part of my personality which seemed to lack focus and crave sleep and food was because of the antibiotics but unfortunately I seem to be the same today. So has the antibioticity just become my personality now?

Animagi

The kids have adopted an animal they want to be. Mimi is a meowcat and Benji is a slug. Ahem. Being a meowcat involves crawling, nuzzling people when you want to be patted, saying ‘meow’ as a demand for (pretend and sometimes real) milk, and sometimes biting. Benji started out as a meowcat too, but then he decided it would be nicer to slither like a wormy, sometimes ensconced in a blanket, and then one day he decided a slug was better a worm (because it’s slimy? Has feelers?). If we call him by his name, he says: “I’m not Benji, I’m a slug.” (V is convinced Benji’s sluggy tendencies have something to with vaginal delivery and wanting to regress up the birth canal. Only very rarely is V’s attempts at psychoanalysis on point, this may be one those occasions.)

 

 

 

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