Monday, July 10, 2017

The Great Eight

Like every mother before me, watching my sleeping child fills me with an insane level of love - the unlined brow, the curve of his cheek, those sweet lips and the look of sheer innocence. Of course daylight brings its own joys (and also moments of frustration/ exhaustion) - endless chatter, running commentary, questions to which I don't readily have acceptable answers, independent thinking and the growing need to make his own decisions and so very many contradictions. 

This past week my boy turned 8. Yes you read that right, E.I.G.H.T. The non stop-ness of small boy has only grown with him. He is a string bean of energy with never a dull moment while he is awake. Food is never his primary interest.  He has never been plump (or haalthy like his mother) and over the past few months he has shot up in height, now giving real beansprouts a run for their money. We had his class birthday in school with cupcakes in early June, followed closely by a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party with 25 friends. His actual birthday is always during the summer break and we try and make it a small occasion with family or friends. 

This year we were in Singapore so he had his cousin, aunt and uncle to spoil him. On the day he woke up to a birthday banner and a compendium of 20 games. Then we spent 4+ hours wandering around Adventure Cove with a dear friend, the two of them taking on the rides without a parent shadowy following them around - every time I tried to get into the Wave pool or lazy river I was stopped with 'we can do this', 'meet us back here' 'thanks but no thanks mum'. So I listened to podcasts and kept my eye on them while they ran around like loons high on water. I finally yanked them out and made them rehydrate. We ate ice cream and then a full on dumpling fest at our favourite Din Tai Fung. I spent a lot of time in taxis ferrying children home and collecting the cake. As small as Singapore is it took a while to get from A to B to C to D and back to B again. 

I ordered his favourite cake - a strawberry shortcake from Henri Charpentier. There were Star Wars balloons and pizza and a giant Lego box as well. Singing, eating, cake devouring, watching a Star Wars movie and running around the house - it was a long afternoon/ evening!

Early in the day he told me how he was going to 'please stay up till 10pm'. I had said yes confident that he would pass out from exhaustion way before. We read a book around 9pm in the hopes of winding down and as we lay there he reminded me that none of these gifts were from V or I and that he intended to choose (Lego) wisely when we got back to Hong Kong. I kept dozing off and every time I woke back up he was just as wired, reading and chatty. Finally at 10.20pm he passed out mid sentence. I didn't last much longer either. 

He's the proud owner of a bunch of books and his first serious watch - a Swatch - all of his choosing. I can see what 8 has in store for us and frankly it seems like an interesting time lies ahead.  I'm hoping it's going to be a Great Eight year. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Holiday Math

So far:

2 snorkeling trips
Uncountable fish and brilliant coral

No Indians of any origin except 1 family from Australia.

1 Singaporean Chinese family
1 Japanese family

Almost everyone else Aussie.

Also interestingly, there are:
6 Sophie's and 4 Oscar's
4 sets of them are brother and sister and all 4 sets have at least 1 more sibling (some more).
4 Max's
3 Kiara's

Kid has made friends with a boy called Max. So I asked him at dinner last night, how come you didn't make friends with any of the Oscars we met.

Answer: Mom, I already have a friend called Oscar.

Ok then.

Monday, June 26, 2017


I'm writing this as I sit here on a stone patio by the Pacific Ocean, listen to the waves and a 3 man Acoustic band. The lead singer has a deep rich voice with a Fijian lilt which goes well with the very strong Fijian rum cocktail in my hand. 

It's Day 2 of this edition of This Wonderful Life. And today while we jumped around in the waves and found the biggest blue-est Star Fish in the sand by us I had to pinch myself. Here I am knocking this place off my bucket list and yet it is so amazing that it would not fit in all the buckets of the world. Warm and wonderful people, delicious fresh seafood and this sea, it's clear water in many shades of blue. It's too much to process really. 

Being a resort of course it's a slice of manicured life but we can see hints of a more real world from our 4th generation Fijian  Indian driver to the little school nearby, full of brightly smiling kids for whom the shore is their playground. Tomorrow we venture out to see more. 

More sitting under this swaying palm tree to be done now. Goodnight from very close to the International Date Line. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Life on an island, under a palm tree

Day 1 to 5 of the summer vacation have this wonderful energy to them which allows us to both laze around, do 685 frenzied activities AND eat boxes of chocolate chip cookies, all at the same time. Day 6 is when I woke up and said  'how many more weeks of this have we got?'. Our house has been a hive of activity: we sorted out bookshelves/ gave away some/ bought new books, repeat for shoe shelves and cupboards, we baked cake/ muffins/ dinner rolls/ pizzas, sorted out the toys shelves/ played board games/ card games, we watched movies/ Tv shows/ podcasts, and we wandered around looking for something, anything to keep us occupied. It's been exhausting.

Today we are off on the next bit of summer. Two weeks away from home, one of them entirely at and for leisure.. Unlike the bulk of our school which 'goes home' for the summer - 2 months in Cape Cod/ Hawaii/ Korea/ Argentina etc - we don't go 'home', we live at home (for that is where my heart is). We dip in and out of our own home, a week here and a week there, back to base for swims and the comfort of our own beds and then a week or so visiting family in India. 

This afternoon we are boarding a flight for a drop in the ocean. I mean to stare at the sea and seek the meaning of life. I hope to throw my phone in the hotel safe and capture the views from behind my sunglasses instead. I intend to marvel at nature and eat slowly and read at leisure and swim in the sea and nap at length. Our week of bliss, the week that keeps us ticking along in the real world for 51 weeks till the next week away, begins today. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017


10 weeks. Yes you heard right: we have 10 weeks of summer break. Today is Day 2 and you might be forgiven for thinking this crafty mother has got it. Gone are the days when mere craft projects were enough to hold his attention. Now craft projects are done in a jiffy and the most used words in my world are 'what's next?'. I was panicking slightly on Day 0 and then I decided that with a bit of planning I could do this.

Luckily I have shelves of books, brimming craft boxes, a playroom to rival Hamleys (yes I am very ashamed to say we have way too many toys), a playground and a pool to occupy most of our time. The biggest change is that we no longer linger. And when I say 'we' I essentially mean 'him'; I can linger with the best of them. So crafts take 5 minutes (not because they are shoddy) and books are gobbled up, worlds/ castles/ zoos/ train stations/ aquariums are built and destroyed at speedy intervals, Lego is manipulated and built to suit different avatars. And when I look at the clock it's only 10am! Snacks! So playground and pool and play dates with children not yet gone on vacation are arranged. After lunch I get him to choose a DVD and I snooze and read next to his unblinking eyes. Afternoons are divided into mini excursions to supermarkets or bookshops, plant watering, board game playing and fights over the necessity of piano practice. This has been our rhythm the first two days of break. Frankly I'm exhausted.

Our summer is broken up, thankfully. We have planes to catch, beaches to lounge on, snorkelling to indulge in, family and friends to meet and one particular baby  to cuddle in the next 10 weeks. Sadly blogger and I are disagreeing on how to upload any pictures to this blog so it's only words to describe how it is all progressing. I won't be a stranger, promise.  I'm in writing mode and devoting some time to this blog and other writing arenas each day. Summer - I love you and dislike you in see saw-ing proportions. The downtime and ability to not get out of bed till 7.30am (Kid is trained to not wake me at 5.30 when he is awake) is great. The lying on floors, reading, listening to music and discussing life is great. The answers to 'what's next?' are less so. But a giant list of things to choose from has now been formulated and tacked to his wall so at the next 'what's next?' I merely point him in the right direction.

Summer, I got you. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A summer of this

Mom, what's for lunch?

It's 8.54, son.

We have been awake since 5.15am.

Welcome to my world.

It's a good thing he is a gorgeous 7 and 3/4ths child.

The summer stretches, at length, before us.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

You never know when it might be the last one

One of things that a new baby in the larger family and a going to G3 kid in the smaller family has brought to the forefront is that I am hitting the 'lasts' of childhood very quickly. My Kid is no longer a baby or a toddler and I'm often at the receiving  end of the 'I can do this myself, mum' argument. His gangly-ness means that even though he 'sometimes' wants to sit on my lap it is no longer comfortable for either of us and so only lasts mere moments.

I think the celebration of birthdays with parties has come to an end today. I can see a trip to the cinema and lunch at Pizza Express looming in years ahead. Acutely aware of this I watched the party this morning with a new appreciation for these 7 and 8 year olds -  the excitement and enthusiasm of games, the rush for sandwiches and as much sugary foods as will fit a plate, the singing of the birthday song and genuine joy at receiving return presents and prizes.

Here we are at the end of the day, and despite precision planning and the help of our helper, family and two high school teenagers I am exhausted. And over tired enough to be unable to nap. And as I sit here I am thrilled it went well and yet filled to the brim with melancholy for the years flown by. I am acutely aware that this is probably the last big party I will have to throw him. So many lasts, all rearing their essential, often poignant and beautiful yet ugly heads.

Silver lining was a big hug at bedtime accompanied by the words, 'You're the best, mom. Thanks for the party'. Anytime son, anytime.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The long road to 8

My problem with birthday parties is I begin way to early. My kid brings me the theme and I toss it around, look up Pinterest and plan plan plan. And then I rope in Kid and we make stuff: invitations, signs, drawings, streamers, games. We cook up prizes, plan return presents, order cake. And it's only been one week.

And so, as a result, we peak too early and by the time the party rolls around we have played it in our heads so many times that it all feels old. We hold on to RSVP's, make lists and count down weeks. I get bored and begin questioning why we are doing this. Isn't 8 too old for a party?

And finally the weekend of the party looms. Our bags of decor and games are packed, the chocolate milk is in the fridge and the sandwich bread awaits its spread. And while his mentally exhausted mother is waiting for it to be over, one little boy is totally excited. So much so that he keeps popping out of his bed to check if it's morning yet. Its infectious. It's going to be a good day.

Tomorrow it will all be over. And as in previous years I fully expect that Kid will ask 'Mom, what will do next year?'

Thursday, June 01, 2017

A new line

Biting the bullet and getting back to this, my blog.

It's been a busy few months. Things of note that come to mind in this hour before midnight and a new day:
1. I'm an aunt. Beside being an aunt to the many nieces and nephews who are children of cousins I consider to be my siblings I am now an aunt to my brothers baby boy.
2. Beside being THE highlight of 2017 this is possibly, beside the birth of my own child, the highlight of my adult life.
3. Kid is super excited that he is no longer junior-most.
4. Talking of which, Kid is about to finish up with Grade 2. I know! When did that happen? Brings to mind the adage about the days being long but the years being short (or some such I think it goes...)
5. Birthday in July; he will be 8. But as we shut down for the summer it's this Saturday that we celebrate with a party.
6. Expect to be bored over the next few days with party talk and pictures.
7. I seem to have fallen quite in love with Instagram.
8. I post on it with regularity but when I look back the pictures and blurbs seem boring and trite - as if my photojournal of life is going to be of any value to anyone but me.
9. I guess I am using it much like a blog, only quicker and more visually. Also I tag nothing.
10. But make no mistake, writing, that's my jam.

Like many times before, I'm back.

Sunday, April 09, 2017


I've been missing for a while. Or at least my words, the largest part of me, have. I can hear them, they even come all the way into my mouth. And then in conversation I stop. Instead I start to write and they wander past my wrist at speed but then they sit, fat with emotion in the palm of my hand, too stubborn to move. I'm hoping the summer will bring a thaw and live in the anticipation that an impending and full monsoon is on its way. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Definitely the wrong way round

I'm always catching up. With the blog, with other blog, with podcast, with Tv shows, with movies and with the news. This morning I was listening to an old (2016)podcast 'This American Life' podcast titled 'One Last thing before I go'. The first act of it is the story of this old phone box that a man in Japan put in his garden. And how so many people come and talk to their loved ones - lost and dead in the Tsunami. The next story is of brothers, 80 and 85 years old, creating some semblance of a relationship after more than 20 years of not speaking over disagreements and imagined slights. It was a sobering episode to say the least. 

As this year has begun I have been thinking a lot about death, life and everything in between. From images of small children dying of malnutrition and people escaping across treacherous seas from unimaginable dangers to my own family and those of my friends. The world is in sure meltdown and the only way to wake up and not want to curl right back under my duvet is to see V and Kid smile and get on with the business of living, of chatting with my parents and siblings and loading up on the teaming mass of friends and family on various social media. 

There was new life last year with friends having babies and getting pregnant against medical odds. So the Circle of human life continues. With older people giving up gracefully and often fighting the good fight. But equally in the last month of the year it showed us about the blatant unfairness of it all. The absolute waste for we have lost a very young soul, the daughter of very dear friends of my parents. A woman just a few years younger than me; mum to two littlies, wife and beloved daughter to her wonderful parents. It's the situation that no parent ever wants to be in. The stuff of my nightmares is losing my child. It's unimaginable and I am heartbroken for them. In time they will learn to cope with the pain and she will live on in her children and the hearts and minds of everyone around her. But it is not on, nor fair and not right. 

Considering it's the most hopeful month of the year, January, when everything is meant to show promise, it is not that at all. It's hard for me at the moment to find solace in the phrase 'live in the moment' and 'que sera sera' even though I know that's good advice. Off to recharge my batteries with the love only my parents and brother can give me. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Seeing as I haven't written for months I'm guessing some kind of explanation is due. Also as we are well into the new year I should be wishing everyone a Happy New Year. But there are no explanations and those words ring false to me at the moment. The reality is that I am struggling to balance the hope for good things that the new year brings with the loss of my last Grandparent just 6 days into the year. 

As I wrote last year, my wonderful Nani had Alzheimer's. In August she was hospitalised and I came to Calcutta to see her. She had no clear memory of me but with a lot of prompting from my mum and mama she remembered both my name and our connection. Even at her fuzziest she always began our meetings with the words 'Hello, darling' while she established who I was and how we were related. Having used those words in greeting for me as far back as I can remember I felt as loved by her this August as through my entire life. 

Loss is not easy. 2016 was tough - both being a world citizen looked less attractive and watching a few friends lose parents was hard. It was a year when my Nani's memories turned further back into her own youth, leaving behind much of the present and past 60 years. Looping language and confusion over time of day and what was going on left this once vibrant person a shell of themselves. And all the illnesses of old age left their marks on her body. 

And last Friday, the 6th of January, she slipped away after a rough time in the weeks before. I joined my parents, brother, mama (uncle), maiji (aunt) and cousin for her cremation and immersion on Saturday morning. We worked through our sadness in different ways, some stoically, some with tearful outbursts, all with pain. My lovely in laws gave me their home and attention and joined us to commiserate and console. 

Back in the real world now with school and office and life moving on at breakneck speed, entirely oblivious to our loss. Mingled with the knowledge that she is free of her confusion and pain is our very real pain at the loss of her physical presence of her soft cheeks and kind eyes. So yes, we know this is better and no, that doesn't make it easier. 

My way of coping is thinking of it as a better place - taking her spot on that lovely heavenly sofa, once again beside the love of her life, my nana. Joining in conversations with my other grandparents and all the people that loved her so. I can't yet fully talk about her and all the wonderful ways she enriched my life. My Nani - loved immensely and missed intensely. 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The bright M

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

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

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

Thursday, October 06, 2016


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

Monday, August 15, 2016

Time slips away

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Japan 2

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

Ice age parenting

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

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

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

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Another day, another Taipei

While yesterday was all about the Big Glossy building and a Big meal, today was about a little bit of history and culture. 

We began at the LongShan or LungShan (depending on who is speaking) temple. Founded in 1738 and dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy this beautiful building is not the original. It was rebuilt between 1919 and 1924 and during this time a number of Taoist deities were included in its grounds. A beautiful gate leads to a courtyard and then the 3 halls of prayer which surround their own courtyard. The beautiful jasmine incense filled air and praying people mingled with tourists like us. Kid greatly admired the Koi pond and artificial waterfall.

We left the temple and headed to the Heritage and Cultural Education Centre. Located just a few blocks away from the temple this little gem is a block of its own; interconnected streets showcasing the original two storey buildings of the Bo-pi-Liao neighbourhood.

The rooms showcased the evolution of this areas history starting from 200 years ago (Qing Dynasty), passing the Japanese colonial rule and then later the Nationalist era. Using the old buildings as a base the many rooms and courtyards showcased various transport modes for trade (rickshaws, barges), architecture (2 stories, deep shaded corridors to keep rain and sun at bay), education (from Confucian moral and ethical views to Japanese New education to the Nine Year compulsory national schools), leisure pursuits (the old style wooden games were a hoot to play - I enjoyed them as much as Kid), commerce (shophouses and various stores/ services), missionaries and the introduction of various types of medicine (apothecary, herb alley to modern medicine). It was a fascinating if hot few hours and we were grateful for the few rooms which were air conditioned. 

Then we headed to lunch at the highly recommended AAD @ Taipei Fish Market. After looking through the various (smelly) fish tanks we wandered through the very crowded supermarket and food stalls. We finally settled in the courtyard eating a variety of fishy and meaty delights skewered on a barbecue. This place is called Addiction Aquatic Development - a name I don't fully understand but think of as very cute. Like the name of our server which was 'Cute'. 

Sated, we headed back to the hotel while the clouds began to gather and thunder threatened.

Instead of the zoo and the MaoKong cable car it turned into indoor afternoon admiring the lightening and thunderstorm. We read, did puzzles, ate cake & ice cream, watched Wimbledon and had an epic pillow fight. Then we went for a swim and ended the day with dinner in the local arcade.

Thank you Taipei. It's been fun. 

Friday, July 01, 2016

Taipei 101 on Day 1....

It's turning into a busy summer. We had a few quick days in Singapore as soon as school closed and before a fun summer camp back in Hong Kong. Tthen a quick look at the calendar revealed a public holiday in Hong Kong today and so with some quick decision making we booked last minute flights and headed here to Taipei, capital of Taiwan.

I always imagine we can achieve more in a day than we actually can and so research where to visit and what to eat rigorously in the march up to the holiday. Making notes, prioritising etc. I was short on time with this one but found plenty of bloggers who have done this trip (with or without kids) and wealth of  other Internet resources to help compile a quick list. 

There is however an entirely separate matter - managing my expectations. Initially I always think we can knock numerous things off the list to see, do and eat. This is usually without considering that places must interest us all and food must appeal to us all. Of course once finally here I must also accommodate my own slow pace with the speed of V and enthusiasm of Kid and find a happy medium for us all. 

So today, Day 1 in Taipei, we ate a wonderful hotel breakfast and headed off to the tallest building in town, Taipei 101. The lines were short and post ticket purchase we were whisked up at great speed to the 89th level. The elevator once (2014-15) held the Guiness Book record for fastest elevator and while the record may have been beaten the ride was amazingly quick.

The Observation deck was similar to the one we had seen in the SkyTree in Tokyo. Big windows framing the city in every direction. 

I took this to show the curlicue design on the outside of the building up close. Taipei is dense but orderly in its planning and there is plenty of greenery around, hills and parks abound. 

We then went up to the 91st floor which has an outdoor observation deck. Boiling hot sun and 3 sides closed off meant there were almost no people on it beside us. Kid enjoyed his time at the binoculars while we sweated it out. I thought the framed windows a few floors lower provided a better unobstructed view in addition to providing blessed air conditioning. 

Then it was time to walk down a few floors to the engineering marvel that is a damper. Forgive me, for I am the daughter of an engineer (who would have loved looking at this with us). 

Sitting just 660 ft. from a major fault line, Taipei 101 is prone to earthquakes and fierce winds common in this area of the Asia-Pacific. To achieve stability and lessen the impact of violent motion, a gigantic tuned mass damper was designed. The damper consist of a steel sphere 18 feet across and weighing 728 ton, suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor. Acting like a giant pendulum, the massive steel ball sways to counteract the building’s movement caused by strong gusts of wind. Kid and I both thought it looked like a giant beehive! We did marvel at its ingenuity and sheer size though. 

Then we took the neat and clean MRT 4 stops to Dongmen and walked briskly to our lunch destination. It was always the plan to visit and pay homage to the original  Din Tai Fung. A pilgrimage if you like. And so we waited patiently with the masses for 30 minutes before we were seated on the 3rd level of this very narrow dining epic. 

Steaming baskets of delectable xiaolongbao (soup filled dumplings) and Sui Mai alongside their unique egg fried rice and signature hot and sour soup covered our table. Kid was in food heaven as were we! It all tastes better her than any of the others - and that's probably not true but hunger and excitement certainly made it feel so! 

Then back to the hotel for a bit of down time. V went off to have a massage while Kid and I attempted a nap. We were foiled by all manner of sticking activities in a Lego Star Wars book. 

When it grew cooler we decided to head out again, this time to stretch our legs and give Kid a chance for a runaround. Daan park in the middle of the city is a beautiful manicured green space with something for everyone. Trees, grass and flowerbeds, walking paths, inline skating rink, sandpit, climbing frames and swings. Enjoyed the hubbub of Taiwanese kids and parents immensely!

And then, this:

Giant rain clouds, a couple of flashes of lightening and thunder and we found ourselves back in a taxi and headed to dinner. 

At the suggestion of someone from V's work we came to a small restaurant which serves variations on beef noodle soup. The one above was our choice; melt in the mouth beef, perfect al dente noodles, all in a peppery broth garnished with scallions. A fitting end to our day. 

Tomorrow I pick a few more (but not too many) places to see and eat at. Tomorrows gonna be a good good day. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How Monday became the new Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


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

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

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