Cannes pwetty

There were lots of pretty dresses at Cannes this year, more than the Oscars I think, and since I have a moment to faff, and also my period which legitimizes all manner of timepass, here are my humble opinions:

Our Indian ladiz did quite well. Sonam has become the one to watch. For example:

sonamblue

I did not love the dress, but it is striking. The main thing I dislike is her hair. It’s a weird shade of brown.

But then she did this:

sonam-kapoor_big bird

The big bird look did not impress. She also did a number of overdressed appearances at things. Thankfully she finished with this:

sonam kapoor last day cannes 2

Then there was Aishwarya who has discovered a striking shade of lipstick.

aishwarya1may20

Then there was Katrina Kaif also in red. Some thought it was too much, but I think it worked. Uncle Oscar is always a good choice. Except she might have kept her hair black.

Cannes-20151

Speaking of desi stars, for once Mindy Kaling did herself justice:

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Closer to my neck of the woods, the Chinese actresses always tend to be impeccable but safe. But I loved this one:

fan-bingbing

I also really liked Charlotte Casiraghi’s dress, though I think someone else might have given it more pizazz. I remember reading this Vogue article rhapsodizing about how gorgeous her lips are and I could only think um, people will fawn over royalty no matter what.

charlotte-casiraghi

Speaking of royalty of the fashion kind, we can always rely on Queen Cate. Everyone was going gaga about this one:

Cate-Blanchett-Cannes-Fil-Festival-2015-Movie-Premiere-Red-Carpet-Giles-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-4

But I much preferred this:

attends the

Much as I love the glamour of it all, this is not on.

The rigors of Third world passports trying to visit the First world

So like an idiot I applied for and got accepted to a conference in a European country. I won’t mention which due to general paranoia.

In my excitement, I forgot about the visa. Or rather how painful it is to get one from the developed world when you are from the developing world. The humiliating hoops you have to jump through. The bureaucratic loops you have to run through.

Their forms with invasive but pointless-seeming questions, the lack of ALL the information you need until you follow some click trail, where hidden in some corner is information you must put on the letter that you already requested and got printed out without the information.

Did I mention the letter? I had to request changes THREE times from the ever-patient but somewhat scatty conference organizer. The last one I thought was perfect had print-out smudges because their printer bled apparently. Apparently, proper printers are not available in whole first-world university but we of the third world would still want to move there. I don’t know how I’m going to explain the smudges.

Then had lunch with V’s friends last night and was moaning to them, and the lady was like “oh it’s very easy, you just need the letter, an original and a copy” and I’m like “what? my original is a copy.” Because noone posts anything anymore. Everything is soft copy. So now my precious letter is not up to the ‘original’ standard. Plus, in some obscure corner of the website I’m stalking, it says I need to have details like my passport number on the invitation letter which I do not have because conference invitation letters never include this stuff. So I’m paranoid now, because I don’t know if I can do a fourth letter, not to mention how long it would take to get one posted.

And then there’s the question of bank statements which I need to apparently get stamped or attested or some such because apparently it’s possible to doctor the Internet printed stuff. Hilariously, the lady I was dining with is very wealthy and when she went for a UK visa interview, they refused to accept her printed statements, so she called the bank manager and he came down to the consulate with a stamp to do the needful. Obviously, my much more modest savings account will not warrant such service.

It doesn’t help that the cost of applying is a lot, and I’m no longer in a position not to care about these things. And anyway applying for and getting rejected on a visa is not a small thing. It gets stamped on your passport forever.

The whole thing is like the unwanted gift that keeps on giving. The more you do, the more you get sucked into doing more because you already did so much already. It’s exactly like gambling, except you need to know at which point to cut your losses and run, but I haven’t determined what point.

I oscillate between wanting to chuck the whole thing (and frankly, if I get rejected, I’d be more pissed about the loss of time and effort than actually not being able to go) and having flashes of enthusiasm about the thing.

I was asking V if he gets so stressed out about documentation and he said he doesn’t. Me, it’s like a traumatic experience. The last time I went through this was the PhD application. There is always some piece of paper that is not as perfect as it should be. The whole thing is set up to ensure that you fail, I’m convinced.

I am coming to the point where I believe that international travel is not the pain of all this. Either I find a way to acquire a first-world passport, or I just travel only to places that allow visa-free travel on an Indian passport. Luckily, I’ve checked off all the must-sees on my bucket list, and now I’m leaning more towards what the venerable Obama called the ‘bucket’ list.

Edited to add: woke up from nap to find V watching this Makayalsm movie in which the female protagonist is waiting for her visa to Ireland to be ptocessed! And finally she decides not to go and to stay in India and do organic farming instead. Solo creepy! Is it a sign I wonder? 

Mother’s Day wins and fails

Ever since I became a mother, I’ve ironically become cynical about Mother’s Day. There’s something so sacharine about the way the whole thing inevitably pans out, not to mention the inevitable commercialisation whereby a woman cannot actually go out for a meal on that day without paying double the price for some already overpriced confection. But the commercialisation bothers me less than the glorification of motherhood that happens on the day, which always gives me the feeling that although I’ve berthed a child or two, I somehow don’t meet that ideal nor do I want to.

This year, I thought I was thawing a bit. It helped that on Friday Benji came home from school with this adorable necklace – beads on rope – and a Mother’s Day book (with two figures that should have been him and me in it, except he didn’t colour in eyes and mouth. Not an artist that kid) and wished me Happy Mother’s Day is this adorable little lilt and followed it up with “I love you” and a hug. Nothing like a handmade prezzie to melt this jaded heart. Mimi was feeling left out, so I pretended a house she had made in craft was her gift, except later when looking through her art stuff, it turned out there was a cute little cardboard handbag there for me, but it seemed like Mimi kinda wanted to keep it.

Then, on the day itself, V who is even more of a cynic than me, got the kids to wish me, and bought me breakfast. I went for a hike up a mountain that Benji had been wanting to do and seemed surprisingly capable of. Mimi chickened out halfway, creeped out by the spiders, and V had to carrry her down a hundred stairs while I plodded up 400 more with the Benj. All the grandpas doing their morning constitutional – yes, this is what oldies in HK do for exercise, hike up mountains leaving us puffing in their wake – were very impressed with him.

I called my mum and wished her. See, I feel like Mother’s Day is meant for women like my mum who really went out of the way to sacrifice for their kids. And I am just not that mum. And while I agree that the day may be meant for the legions of mothers who are, I feel that the day is deifying a kind of ideal that is actually unfair to women in the long run. My mum loves Mother’s Day and we have always made it special for her, long before it became a Hallmark event. My sister sent her a bouquet of flowers from both of us, and I’ll admit, I was taken by surprise when my mum mentioned it.

Post-lunch though, things took a downturn. I was tired after the morning’s activities but Mimi, who was also tired, seemed in no mood to sleep. I ended up yelling at her and being kind of rough, yanking her arm. I stormed out of her room, then she decided to go get a colouring book, which I refused to let her have, she started wailing. I decided to do a timeout myself, and sat on the couch with my phone ignoring her. Mothers these days get a lot of flak for being on their phones all the time, but I think it’s basically a zone out device during drama. Like a quick and easy fix, a way to switch off and then on. Mothers in the past probably busy themselves with ironing or something, which sounds more productive but probably isn’t because you’d end up getting tired and then more snappish.

But yeah, not my finest moment, and V called me on it in the evening. I got a bit defensive. Yes, I need to curb my impatience. On the other, is it only our generation of mothers that are expected, and I mean in real life not just paintings etc., to be so beatific in the face of meltdowns and drama? I am positive that when I was a kid, there would be one tight slap delivered, whereby the kid would howl and then fall asleep. Now, I’m against the one tight slap approach theoretically, though I’ll admit the odd occasion when I’ve delivered a smack, though not very sharply and never more than one on the arm or something. And when I do that, my kids don’t really get it and think I’m playing because they don’t (so far) identify hitting with us being angry.

But apparently, even shouting is out of bounds these days. One is supposed to be super composed and calmly tell the child off or even better, reason with the child. It does not help that I interviewed a parenting expert and it really does sound lovely if one could achieve this. Except I’m short on patience so not the best candidate though one might argue it’s exactly people like me who need to practice this. On the other hand, does anyone achieve it? I mean people with kids like Mimi? With Benji, yeah, I could pull calm and composed off because it’s not a drama-a-minute.

Anyway, despite my irritation with V at pointing it out, I feel like I need to try and hold it in. Or walk away and zone out and the return to the site of the drama. Mimi is old enough to be left alone, I guess. The problem with me losing it is that not only is it ideal for the kids but it sets a bad example for the helpers. E is exactly the kind of paragon of virtue who manages to calmly correct the child without resorting to evil adult mode (as far as we know). But J might take her cue from me. And that is not something I want.

So yeah, I need to pull back and do better on this front.

On the other hand, I’ve binged on Project Runway and improvised bhel (made by the genius V) and it was exactly the medicine I needed after a very stressful week.

One of those days

Or weeks. But today was extra special:

1. Had to leave early to supervise an exam. Got there on time, got attitude from the Chief Invigilator because she was stressed because there were not enough exam booklets of the correct colour. Turns out she thought I was the course instructor when I’m only a student standing in for the instructor.

2. Was not feeling loving towards students, even less so when I read their answers.

3. Collected the papers and didn’t know what to do with them because had received no instructions. After running around a bit, carried them to department office. If had known, would have brought a bag. 

4. Tried to submit forms, but as I entered admin guy’s office heard him calling colleague about missing documents that I hadn’t brought either. So had to schlepp to office to print out those documents.

5. Office computer moves at glacial pace and printer runs out of ink.

6. Submit everything, but it’s too late to get legs waxed.

7. Need to get legs waxed to wear skirt to play mommy in play at kindergarten I’ve been roped into by playdate mothers.

8. Speaking of which, we are to go to school and set up a day in advance as if this is a broadway production and not a ten minute presentation of a (rather sexist) book.

9. It is 1.30 pm, I haven’t had lunch, and I’ve eaten only a toast for breakfast. Head out of office and slam middle finger in the door. Honestly thought I’d dislodged it and was going to die of the pain. Rush to loo, pour tepid water on it, go into cubicle, sit on pot and try to cry. Fail.

10. Pain is bearable so go eat a burger and fried chicken to comfort self. Ice finger with iced tea.

11. Chat with sister on phone about rubbish problems in our lives.

12. Go to kids’ school for play set up. Admin lady is weird about letting me in, but later when white mother comes, she just sweeps in without much of a mention. Mothers agonise over placement of every object. Fifteen minute job takes 45 minutes. They are moody and so am I.

13. Go home, and head to travel agent to research tickets to Ireland for conference. Should have done this instead of trying to find flights online and wasting hours on stupid etihad website. 

14. Land up home at 4 pm, but can’t go home because Mimi won’t let me work and I have a freelance project due today. Ask helper to bring my laptop down and work in clubhouse.

15. Head home after kids have left for park.Forget to press floor and land up on random upper floor. 

16. Head down to my floor. Realise I have not brought key. Call helper to bring me key.

17. Wait wait wait. Turns out helper is waiting somewhere else.

18. Get home. Write this post instead of working.

I realise that most of this is first-world, self-created problems. But seriously, I feel like I have menopause. I am so scatty and out of it these days, and I’m ovulating. Is ovulating brain a thing? Why am I a victim of my hormones? Or is it the heat? Am I having hot flushes?

In other news, my finger looks like a sausage.

The end.

Mimi and me

I have written before about Mimi’s oscillating affections towards me. First, she clung to me in India, then she rejected me when we got back and decided Tita J was her numero uno, then she fell sick and decided on me after all. I’ve realised Mimi is like an Alsatian, in that she’s a one-person dog and can only invest all her attention and affection in one and only one person, and unfortunately, that reminds me of myself. So I can’t entirely complain.

But the problem is that I am just not made for this kind of attention. My whole life has been spent avoiding anyone that tries to attach themselves to me too firmly. I got married, yes, but that was an aberration. And then, I had children, and obviously, in infancy they were like limpets, but I expected they would detach slowly.

If anything, I thought Mimi would attach to Tita J who is her primary caregiver, or V, because Daddy’s Little Girl. But Mimi is exclusively mummy mummy mummy, which took me by surprise, because I never expected to be that person to anyone. Which is obviously a surprising thing, since most people’s ideas of mothers is that they are indeed that person, but  I never expected it, mainly because Benji distributes his affections quite evenly among three adults in the house which gives us all space to breathe.

I’ve been reading up on feminist psychologists, and one of the things they point out is that Freud erred in centering his Oedipus and very faulty Electra complex on the relations with the father, when the prior relationship with the mother is more crucial in personality formation. So (very simplistically) boys develop by separating from the mother relatively early, and thus, become people who are somewhat emotionally aloof, while girls don’t really see the boundary between themselves and the mother till much later and thus become relationally orientated in adult life. This is due to the family structure where mothers are the primarcy caregiver and not something inborn.

And I do observe this with my children. Ironically, Benji is the one more naturally inclined to cuddle, but he is able to detach too, while Mimi literally wants to dissolve into me I think. Since she recovered from the flu and got settled into school, she is better at giving me some space, but if she catches sight of me, it’s very hard for her to settle for anyone else doing anything for her.

The other thing is that she’s such a drama queen that it’s quite trying being the person she’s emotionally invested in. If I shout at her, she will be mortally offended and inconsolable by anyone until I make up with her. She will get deeply angry with me, but can’t let go of me either so she’ll alternate between trying to hit me (and succeeding sometimes) and hugging me. It’s all very intense. Poor Benji doesn’t know what to make of it.

V laughs and says: “You wanted a daughter didn’t you?” The thing is, though, I naively imagined my daughter would be like Benji, only female. But Mimi is an entirely different cup of tea. First of all, she looks completely different which is another funny thing that surprised me. With Benji, I had no expectations of how he would look. But after him, I expected the second child to look like a variation of him, which is stupid because my sister and I look completely different. Benji and Mimi also look so different , people would be hard pressed to figure out they’re siblings. And they are like chalk and cheese personality wise. Benji is dreamy and easygoing. Mimi is basically a virago – she is quick as a button and her emotions are extremely close to the surface. Basically she personifies the rhyme:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good, she was very very goodBut when she was bad, she was horrid.

What Mimi needs is a mother who is calm, patient and all-giving. Instead, she got me. At some level, I know that Mimi is going to be fucked up by me because I just cannot be the mother she needs. I cannot be her24/7  Siamese twin as she would like. I need to detach for my own sanity.

But the force of her demands has had me cave in . I can run but I can’t hide from my daughter and so I must accept her as my shadow for as long as she needs. Because of my own personality, I do this imperfectly, but I do my best.

One day, I asked her, who do you love best? She thought and fairly quickly said, Mummy, as I knew she would. This is not a trick question for her. The answer is obvious. But why do you love me so much? I asked. She thought longer. Finally, she said: “That’s just … how it is.” And there you have it.

Just watched

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You know life changes when you have kids, yada yada. My life has changed but I don’t know if it’s entirely because of the kids. It’s also because of the need to save due to a variety of factors, of which having kids are one. Thus, when spending money, one is forced (by one’s husband) to prioritise. One of the things I gave up and don’t really miss much is going to the theatre for movies. First, I gave up going with friends because our friends would always pick a show on Hong Kong Island and the theatres there can cost double the less fancy ones our side do. Then, I realised if I’m pinching pennies, watching something on big screen I could well watch at home was not how I wanted to spend those precious pennies. And on the subject of value of money, I could no longer think of movies as timepass, and I found that most movies are not great enough to justify the time and money spent on them. So yeah, if I watch a movie in the cinema, it’s normally an action film or something panoramic.

That shouldn’t stop be from watching movies at home, except I rarely do because I don’t have the time and when I find that I do, I can’t remember which one I want to watch to download it. That’s where the Oscar movies come in, because those names stick in the mind. And this year’s crop of Oscar films sounded quite interesting. And of all of them, the one I really wanted to watch was one of those that received comparatively little attention – Selma.

Yes, all this to say I finally watched Selma, a gem of a film that deals with a crucial moment in the American civil rights movement. It was bound to be an inspiring storyjust by virtue of having Martin Luther King in it, but it was also a wonderfully crafted film. There is an early moment in the film showing a bomb blast which is just one of those times when I am forced to concede awestruck the potential of the film medium. V who was dozing off woke up and exclaimed admiringly (but then fell asleep soon after), but I was dumbstruck and riveted from that moment onward.

To watch this film now, with Obama in the White House and the gunshots of white policemen against black men that we see on the news every other day ringing in my ears, is a deeply poignant experience. It shows how the promise of Selma has been fulfilled and yet how much remains to be done. In Hong Kong, where the government is peddling a farcical blueprint of universal suffrage that had our young people out in the streets in protest courting police batons like the black people of Selma did all those years ago, the voice of MLK asserting the importance of a genuine right to vote reminds us that this is a fight worth fighting.

On Friendship

IHM’s blog had a post on women and friendship that sparked a lot of thoughts. Wordsetmefree wrote about how her mother took only one strong friendship into her marriage, and that women of our mothers’ generation were essentially friendless after they got married. The comments were also a treat to read, as women shared about the lack or presence of friendships in their or their mothers’ lives.

It was suggested that after marriage, women are traditionally expected to seek friendships within the family. Given that Indian marriages are exogamous (whereby women are married young and expected to cut off ties with their own families) this sounds about right. Alienated and isolated, they turn to whoever’s available in their husband’s family, which obviously has its pitfalls, though sometimes strong friendships are wrought here. Also, even if a woman remains in contact with and uses her family as a support system, it has it’s limitations because the family would tend to share similar norms.

I agree and disagree. Yeah, if a woman comes from a conservative family, then she will never break out of that value system if all her friends are within it. On the other hand, there is something to be said for the unconditional support and bedrock of security that family friendships offer. I know some people whose best friend is their sister and why not?

Another thing that was said was that women who come from liberal families tend to have strong friendships (because they are allowed the freedom to cultivate them) and to maintain them (because they are already the kind of people for whom these friendships would be non-negotiable). I’ve always tended to have friends outside my family and I know this pisses my mother off. She is of the opinion that family comes first. I agree, but I think friends are a close second and my mum cannot entirely comprehend this, because like the mother in the IHM post, she has not been able to maintain many close friendships. Her friends moved away or got on with their lives and to some extent, my mum was left behind. Now that her nest is empty, she is slowly resuscitating some friendships, but she still has my grandmother as a dependent and it’s hard, not least because there are not that many people available. Once, I told a shrink I was seeing that I was anxious about not having enough close friends, and she told me this was not something I needed to worry about, that it is enough to have a network. Something about this didn’t sit right with me. My mother’s example makes me determined to preserve my friendships, though my mother doesn’t see it this way.

On the other hand, people noted that college friends are not ideal as one tends to outgrow them and that one needs to make new friends. As someone whose closest friends are from college and who finds it harder and harder to make new friends, I think this is a ‘depends’ situation. College and then work are the settings most conducive to making friends. Thinking back I’ve realised all my work friends have drifted off. What is it about college friends? Maybe it’s because you meet them at a point when you have the luxury of time? To sit and talk about nothing at all and therefore about everything? That these period is extended enough for it to last a lifetime, beyond physical presence?

Yes, one outgrows some college friends. And yet, when I reunited with my college group a couple of years ago it was shockingly peaceful and fun, even with the one’s who I was not really in touch with. And the ones who I have remained close to play an important role. They remind you of who you used to be. That shining happy person. And when you has totally lost one’s way and sense of self, the college friend will firmly reach out through the dark and gently turn you to the mirror of who you used to be.

Your family also knows who you used to be. But possibly because the self we are around our friends is the ideal self, the one we most want to be, that it is a self worth being reminded of. I think the family is the coccoon. They will love you no matter who you are. You friends may not, but that’s the point. Their presence is a reminder that, actually, you’re awesome.

Others pointed out how making friends among other mothers is not always the best because one hears the same things over and over. MinCat had once told me that I would probably make more friends in HK when I had kids. People are definitely more friendly in the playground where kids are a natural icebreaker. However, although we have a mommy group of three from Benji’s kindy class, I’m not entirely comfortable around these women. I don’t know if they can become my real friends. When I posted about this, one mum commented how she felt the opposite. I can totally see how mommy groups would work, in fact, it makes perfect sense.

But most of my closest friends don’t have kids, some aren’t even married. And this works for me because it allows me to be a person beyond a mom. Even as I sometimes get frustrated with how some of my non-parent friends seem allergic to any conversation that involves the kids, I notice the moms disproportionately about their kids. I guess it’s the safest talking point. Or the help, which always makes me feel like I’m living in a cliche.

However, the last time we did a playdate, we finally had what I would call a ‘real’ conversation. The other two mums opened up a little about their marriages. Their bodies. Their frustrations beyond their children. And I finally felt engaged. This is what I need, conversations that show a little bit of the soul, because talking about the kids can be the most superficial thing.

And it made me wonder about my self and my own insecurities. It’s a cliche that women are competitive with each other, and I wondered if my initial antipathy towards these women was my own insecurity. Certainly, some of it is/was. For one, they are wealther, and now I realise older. On the other hand, I am wary of one of them. But the fact that they let a bit of the desperate housewife in them show makes me like them more.

The other new situation I’m in where I have a chance to make friends is a uni. Here too I was wary of the other girl in our cohort. It surprised me, because I wanted to be friends with her because I know that I’m not going to be besties with any of the guys even if I get along with them. But I also found her slight air of superiority grating on my nerves (hmmm, that’s also my problem with the mum). Six months down the line, we’re friends. So I wonder, was it me being insecure around other women? Am I one of those women? I thought I wasn’t. I’m not sure. Maybe she was. Because I did notice her making a big effort around the guys, and maybe she finally came to her senses. I think a turn in our relationship was when she told me about her boyfriend issues, and I was halfway on my way home, but took the train back to have a drink with her. I don’t know if this friendship will last, but hey, it is a college friendship so you never know.

My closest friend in Hong Kong used to say that she was one of the guys, that she never had close women friends. I found this strange because she had at least two close girlfriends. Then she encountered some seriously problems in her life that were like an awakening for her. And one day, she told me, you know women live longer and the ones that live the longest are those that have girlfriends. I smiled. I’m not big on living long, but I’m big on girlfriends.

This friend and I meet once a month without anyone else for a heart-to-heart.

Easter

We had a five day weekend for Easter and the kids had a day off. In Hong Kong, that means that (upper middle-class) people take off somewhere. Travelling out of Hong Kong has become such a thing, that if you don’t people feel very surprised and sorry for you. But since I have no interest in paying a big fat amount to chase my kids around some exotic locale only to return exhausted, we decided to stay put. Our strategy for this year is to do mini-breaks  in HK itself, and probably an India trip at the end of the year, which the kids and their grandparents may enjoy. V and I might do individual holidays at some point.

However, staying in town doesn’t have to be boring, especially since HK has a fabulous transport system. We did sometime special with the kids every day.

Day 1: We took the kids for a tram ride from Admiralty to HK. We thought we’d see Easter decorations in Pacific Place but I think malls in HK are on a bit of a budget since retails sales have dropped. So unfortunately, there were no Easter decorations up, but we went to the food court and got some fruit and Lidnt Easter eggs for the kids. Then we hopped on a tram to North Point. Benji especially loved the ride, as expected. We got off at the street market in North Point and picked up some cheap clothes for the kids, as Benji has been wanting a Spiderman outfit for ages.

That evening V and I went to the recently opened Saravana Bhavan for dinner. Actually, first we stopped off at Brantos for a plate of sev puri because V had heard from friends that Saravana Bhavan was not all that. I’m happy to report that thefamed button idlis are indeed worth the fame, though the dosa did not live up to V’s stringent standards of crispiness. After dinner, we headed to the Indian grocery in Chungking Mansion where among other things, we picked up a box of mangoes.

The odd thing is that I’ve been moaning for years about how Hong Kong lacks idlis and mangoes, when both were always available. Brantos has been around for ages, but deterred by reports of sketchiness and V’s general unenthusiasm, we never tried it until I put my foot down sometime last year (i.e. eight fricking years after we arrived) and everything turned out to be very good. The place has a hole-in-the-wall charm but it is clean and I have been there on my own and the service has been friendly. As for the mangoes, I’d been wary because of conditioning from my mum about how mangoes in boxes always suck. And yeah, these are not as good as those she would handpick herself or that my father-in-law sells on his farm, but they sure beat the South East Asian variety available in the wet market.

Day 2: I had this vision of taking the kids to Stanley, where we would have an idyllic lunch while they frolicked on the waterfront. So despite V’s warnings that it was not worth the many train changes etc. we set out. It started off well with the kids playing in a playground while V and I checked out the street market. An odd thing has been happening to me when I go shopping, probably because I’m watching my wallet. I just cannot make up my mind to buy anything. It’s very frustrating because I later have non-buyers’ remorse.

Unfortunately, when we decided to get lunch, it turned out nothing was open yet. I hmmmed and hawwed over the slim picking of restaurants and chose one, only to regret it when we sat down and I realised there wasn’t much for the kids on the menu. The kids were overtired by now, and when they refused to even taste the quiche I ordered, I gave up and we headed to McDonald’s. So yeah, we travelled over an hour to eat McNuggets at McDonalds. The only icing on the cake were the toys we acquired with the Happy Meal after Mimi had a full meltdown. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

Day 3: On Easter, we just hung out at home doing non-Easter things like going to the park like it was any other weekend. V cooked up something yummy for lunch, and that was that.

In the evening, a friend whose wife was out of town called and we headed to Butcher’s Club which is reputed to have the best burgers in town. Although the price tag of HK$100 for a burger does deter one, it really was the best I’ve tasted. My only quibble was that it was a little small. After, we landed up in Djibouti, which our friend informed us has been listed somewhere as Hong Kong’s no2 hookup spot. And it certainly was filled with beautiful people. For once, V fit right in sartorially speaking in his shorts and T-shirt.

Day 4: I had a paper and a presentation looming over my head, so I made a deal with V that I would work that day and then hang out with him the next day. V and the kids dropped me to work, and let me just say they were not impressed with my working environment. Also, Mimi started bawling when they had to leave and I felt like a terrible mother.

Day 5: I spent the morning in the park with the kids, and then V and I took off in the evening to hunt for sofas. We saw three possibilities but ended up ordering nothing. Yep indecision strikes again. I felt that we were not getting exactly what we wanted and all the options were expensive. Our sofa started looking not-too-bad (however, now it has literally broken down beyond the point of tolerance so we have to bite the bullet and get one). Instead, we headed to a Korean Fried Chicken restaurant for dinner. KFC (not the chain) is all the rage in Hong Kong, which is a good thing because the actual KFC chicken has deteriorated to the point of tasting like rubber. The only problem with the Korean Fried Chicken place was that despite being a small restaurant it was expensive and you could only order a whole chicken which meant that for two people, there was little room for anything else. We ordered the spicy version, and dang was it spicy. But so so good. The quality of the chicken was excellent. And this is not even the best KorFC place on the list. My mouth is watering as I type this.

So that was our five day weekend. It flew by and we felt refreshed after it.

Mini break

We went on a minibreak to Lantau at the end of March. I was grumpy in the run-up because the weather was still cold, and so what was the point if we couldn’t swim. Plus, I had hit a really busy spot at work so it wasn’t the best time.

And then, of course, on the day we were to leave, I got my period. Because of course. That pushed me over the edge and I was generally pissed.

But it worked out well. The change of scene was soothing and refreshing. I got enough rest. It was too cold to swim, so I didn’t have to choose whether to use a tampon. The kids did splash about the water though, but I just sat in the sunshine. Yes, the sun came out and the weather held throughout.

Here are some memories:

A house with stairs! Suddenly, I am craving more space. Maybe because I’m doing a PhD I want a room of my own. But also, I feel a bigger kitchen would be nice, which always elicits a snort from V because ‘why do you care what size the kitchen is?’ Well, I care because I would like other people to have a nice experience while cooking;)

Lantau wildlife always cause a stir. 

The relative cold didn’t deter the kids. 

Happy feet (mine).   

We did a day trip to Tai O. I’ve always wanted to take the kids but it turned out to be pretty boring for them because the boats out to see the famous pink dolphins didn’t start their runs as early as when we got there. V and I wandered around, while the kids played in a regular ol’ playground.  

Dragon boats in waiting. 

Cat on a barrel of shrimp paste.

The unbearable lightness of being

At the risk of repeating myself, I have lost a tonne of weight. As is normal, running around in India and falling sick started it, then I capitalised on the loss of appetite to starve myself eat less and voila – EIGHT kilos. Whenever I meet former colleagues, they gape. A friend asked me if I’m thinner now than before I was pregnant with Benji.

You’d think I’d be super happy (hint: I am … mostly) but this being me there is no silver lining without a dark cloud. SO:

Things I like about weighing less:

1. The angles of my face. I used to hate how angular my face was, but nothing like a double chin for a few years to make you long for that triangular jawline.

2. My trousers zipping up without a struggle. My wallet was struggling to keep up with my burgeoning hips, as it costs money to keep going up a size unfortunately. See, practical, not just aesthetic reasons. Though also, when you sit down in slightly tight trousers, and you tummy hangs over it, HATE THAT FEELING. Again, people can’t see that because I’m very good at choosing camouflagy clothes but I personally found it uncomfortable.

3. Being able to lie on my side without my hip hurting. This is a thing, yo. When you put on weight, after a point, your hip on the side you’re lying on begins to protest. Weird.

4. Fitting into the MTR seats with space leftover. Honestly, the seats are too small though.

5. The compliments.

Things I don’t like about weighing less (yes, this is a thing)

1. Hunger. So I thought that the logic of portion control is that you eat less, and then your appetite shrinks. And yeah, this happens. Though I think not enough to stop one feeling hungry. So while the hunger is not unbearable, it is there.

2. As a result, I’m more snappish/quick to run out of patience. I was never a font of patience to begin with, and now that my tummy is rumbling … This is probably why Hong Kong women (who are thin as rails) look so grumpy all the time, they’re probably starving.

3. Related to No. 2 in the ‘Things I like’ section, on the one hand, nice not to have to go up a size, but … now a lot of the new clothes I bought having given up hope, hang on me. For example, my jeans because they are loose make me look like I have no ass because my ass is now not Beyonce sized. There’s no winning is there? A friend sagely advised me to “keep the jeans” becuase you never know, though obviously while I know I am not going to maintain this weight, I don’t want to think I’m going to rise to my former heights, depths  girth.

Ironic fact about being arguably thin

You know how people go on about how fat people are unhealthy blah blah. Well, I got this thin because I was unhealthy. So yeah, I’m exercising and eating less and snacking on an apple etc, and maybe I’m healthier than before, but I don’t think so. I still have a lingering cough that made me suspect TB (and part of me doesn’t want to know if it is or isn’t though the doc just gave me more antibiotics which I haven’t taken).

Frankly, the most effective weight loss technique for me is falling sick, and that kind of flies in the face of the gyan no?

Surprising fact about current food regime

Don’t miss chocolate. I’m keeping off dessert and so far when I’ve had it, I’m not wowed, which is a new first for me. Not to be even tempted. Cannot imagine it will last though.

Miss milk in my tea, which I am inexplicably avoiding. It’s helped my tummy issues, but not completely. Heh.

Craving chips. Come my period, I’m going to indulge.

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