Thursday, December 06, 2012

This motherhood

Nothing could have prepared me for today.

Today I watched my 3 year old get up on stage with his classmates of just a few weeks and dance his little heart out. I thought my heart would burst with pride and love.

I'm glad it was a dark concert hall and no one could see my eyes well up.

Not sure why I'm blogging this but I wanted to say it out loud and this is the loudest I can get with all my friends living in another continent.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Singapore 11: so over

Breakfast, that is.

As per my very fickle temperament (and all this time I thought I was big on follow through) I'm bored of breakfast. I think the imaginary pressure of no comments has made it impossible for me to pursue even the idea of a places to breakfast series. The reality is that I am not a breakfast person at all.

Of course I bought Time Out for December today and their main feature was on breakfasts. I now feel like a fraud for some reason.

Anyway, last week while I was still in pursuit of a crumpet to remind me of London, I met a friend for breakfast. I chose 'Food for Thought', a two restaurant chain that had just opened its second and more airy branch at the Botanic Gardens.

It's a beautiful big and airy cafe submerged one level below street with a huge outdoor space and wooden play area. Even on a weekday morning at 9 it was quite full. It has these lovely square concrete tables with holes for plants interspersed all over them.

I ordered a cappuccino and waited for my friend. When she arrived we each ate a breakfast of scrambled eggs with various accompanying things like mushrooms, hash browns, brioche toast, bacon. The portions were big but really not very tasty. I literally ate the brioche toast and left most of the rest. The hash browns were like dough balls dropped into a deep fat fryer. And the mushrooms so over-garlicked as to overpower everything. I would not recommend the breakfast but I do want to try the lunch menu.

It was a pleasant enough morning and nobody rushed us as we sat there and chatted. The overall ambiance is pleasant even with that many people in it. I guess all that space has its advantages. I do want to go with my family for a Sunday brunch so that we can wander around the beautiful botanic gardens before or after. They have one more chance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Singapore 10: is breakfast the most important meal?

I've never been much of one for breakfast. I preach it, sure. Do I practice it, not so much. I do make sure my kid eats it though. And I can see the time coming when he questions why I ain't shoving weetabix down my own throat with the enthusiasm with which he does. On weekends though I do eat breakfast. In fact I try and make us sit down for a proper one. But honestly, it's so we sit and eat together rather than any love for food at that time of morning.

Over the past week however I seem to have fallen into a pattern. I drop him off at Montessori (his weetabix downed in about 4 minutes!) and then proceed to eat breakfast at a cafe/ restaurant. Its my exhale moment. I catch up with email and blogs and lists of things to be done. But mainly I gaze and nibble at a plate of something. Then I am off to a half day of exploration/ chores before its time to collect him. Maybe this is the new me?

Today I'm on Killeney Road, ostensibly to stock up on groceries and pop to the post office. I've detoured to Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux. It's the tiniest of cafes at the very beginning of a row of shophouses (buildings with shops below the houses of people who own/ work in them). The divine smell of freshly baked goods, vanilla cinnamon and bread wafts all the way into the sultry Singapore air.

I've chosen to sit facing the pavement, at a table so that I can people and baked goods watch. Continuing with the homesickness theme I've gone for scrambled eggs and sausages with toast and marmalade. A meal I would never have voluntarily eaten in London. What distance will do to one eh?

Anyway, have a good day lovely people. I've bought croissants for lunch (too hot by then for cooked meals) and banana bread for tea time. It's going to be a good day. I can feel it in my sun warmed bones.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Singapore 9: confession time

For the lovely ladies who said I told you so, you were right. I miss London. Rather I don't miss the city, but all my lovely girl friends just at the ends of phones, texts and opposite me at dinner tables.

The past week was the 7 week itch. I sat at home for most of it waiting for furniture deliveries and various handymen for our beautiful apartment. And with all that time to think and talk being wasted on the white walls I got to thinking about how essential having friends is to any city. Truth be told I haven't had many minutes to reconnect with people I already know in this city and the ones I have all have fully fleshed out lives with limited time. I am not their priority, rightly so.

So it's a slower process than I imagined and you know me, fussy and cantankerous at the best of times, so it's slow going on the find-a-friend programme. I'm not downhearted about this. It's the charm and challenge of a new city and nothing on this adventure will daunt me.

Having said all that, admitting my homesickness for all these wonderful strong women that made London ever so enjoyable and interesting to live in, I am still loving Singapore.

And there is always food. To combat said homesickness I am sitting here at a restaurant called Wild Honey (6 Scotts road, # 03-01 Scotts Square) waiting on a full English breakfast, cumberlands and all. Meanwhile I sip my latte and enjoy the little Christmas decorations that make this city seem almost European. I miss you London people. Think of me as you go about your day today. For I am certainly thinking of you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Singapore 8: you know what?

One of the things everyone said before we came to this island state was how we were so lucky to be able to now have help. The ones that lived in London, especially those with small kids, said it with a tone of envy, full time help will make your life so very easy. And the few friends and family here all made a point of saying that even if I didn't want it, within 6 months I would cave and get full time help.

There are a number of threads to pick from to take forward this discussion. The first is that at the discussion stage of whether to move or not the one thing both V and I were completely clear that full time help was probably not a good fit for us. Beside the fact that neither of us had it growing up so are unused to having help live in the house, this decade in London has built a wall of privacy around us. One that would not allow for another non family person to live 24/7 with us.

Second, I am in principle opposed to both the idea and conditions in which help live here. I just cannot imagine asking another human being to live in the unventilated box room off a very hot kitchen that qualifies as living quarters. (And lets not start on the livelihood aspect - if you knew the pittance of wages, two days off a month and serious debt some of these women incur you would probably agree with me). I am of the school of thought that doing some of our work is good for us (making beds, fetching water and doing loads of laundry at the very least) and that hiring a cleaner to come in on a fairer wage to do the mightier things like vacuum and clean bathrooms is a better option. And for many years when we couldn't afford it we cleaned and ironed and it did us no harm and taught us the value of hard work. I'm a fan of this western way of living, of learning some responsibility and independence at a young age. It makes for a more equal life.

All of these are reflections of how we want to live and not judgments of how other people choose to live. Since coming here I have heard good and bad and downright scary stories. I haven't for even one second regretted my decision to not get full time help.

It's taken over a month of searching and going through a number of options to find an agency who will take only the finders fee but who will allow the cleaner to come in an be paid directly and in full. Our new cleaner started today. She was marvellous. Clean and neat, quick and thorough and my house is shining like a pin.

Anyone willing to wager that I won't be changing my mind? Or have you very little faith in my will power?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Singapore 7: Another Diwali, another tradition

My son doesn't look in the least bit like me. From the doctor who delivered him to absolute strangers who see us three together, the comment is always about how he is a miniature of his father. My best friend commented shortly after his third month, 'so what exactly did you do that there isn't an ounce of you this is cherub?!'.

Well it's 1.20 am here in Singapore and as I am sat writing this I am perched at the corner of the bed having just administered some very strong medication to a little boy with very very high fever.

I was going to write about the Diwali that my brother and I took it in turns to go into hospital for unexplained fevers and turn out mothers hair grey. I was scrolling through the blog to find the memory box number so the post would have an accurate title. And I found this:

I'm getting old. Don't even remember what I've blogged about.

This time his parents, cousin, aunt and uncle will pause in our celebrations till he is well enough to enjoy the occasion. Here, on choti Diwali, it turns out my son is more like me than I imagined. He is burning up with an unexplained fever and turning his mothers hair grey.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Singapore 6: the one you never want to write

It's an exciting time for our little family. In the nearly 3 weeks we have lived in our apartment we have taken little walks and cab rides and MRT rides and bus rides to understand the lay of the land. The kid started Montessori quite close to home but with the humid heat (which I thrive in but he finds too hot to handle) and his curiosity about ants drains trees its just not feasible to walk the 25 odd minutes that a 12 minute walk inevitably takes.

On the odd day that he comes home with red lobster cheeks I let him have a nap and ruin his schedule. I figure he's 3 and has a lifetime of scheduling right around the corner. Also I am trying to be a calmer (less uptight) mum. New country new leaf and all that.

So anyway, on Monday he napped for a couple of hours in the afternoon and when V suggested we take the bus to his office we both jumped at the idea. Left home at 7 and walked at a leisurely pace to the bus stop. At the bus stop our man sat on the high bench and was holding my hand. Then he left my hand and as I stood by him and put my hand in my knapsack to take out our tickets he decided to swing/ dance and sing. Didn't realise it wasn't a broad bench and it didn't have a back. Went back first on to the concrete bus stop floor. Hit his head with a thump and began an instant scream.

Long story short we spent an evening and night in hospital being observed by a neurologist for the giant bump on the back of his head. Painkillers and medicine to stop the puking. Two shattered and very tense parents who lay by him all night.

All clear with brilliant vital signs and bubbling with energy by discharge time the next day. Came home Tuesday mid day and as predicted and encouraged by the doctor he had a 3 hour nap (good after any trauma for body to recover). Woke up in a great mood and ate. An hour later the puking and high temperature re-appeared so another trip to the a&e to check if it was related to his head bump. Medication and 2 hours of observation later they confirmed he just had a bug and could go home.

A visit to the paediatrician this morning and a swab test confirms a strain of highly infectious influenza. His cousin has had it for a few days and kindly passed it on. Now with the two of them so unwell our short trip to Calcutta for Diwali has been cancelled.

I know in theory that I could not have prevented this fall and that it could have been a lot worse. I know that he and we are very lucky to have access to the best medical care available. But I feel like that cloak of invincibility I thought I could cocoon my family in is clearly pin thin and I'm only just seeing that. I can only teach my child to be careful/ cautious but I can't always be there to watch him follow through. It's a lifetime of little playground injuries ahead and I cannot stop that with my time machine. I can however provide the TLC and Peppa Pig bandages.

I am officially the worst mum in 2012.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Singapore 5: condominium

From wednesday, before phone incident: I'm afraid the tales of house hunting shall have to be on hold. It's been a crazy 3 weeks (today!) but contrary to what everybody said was achievable I'm sitting in the new apartment waiting for both our air and sea shipments to arrive. And when I say crazy I mean I'm having to be a jogging snail instead of a crawling snail.

It will take us about 3 days to put things in their place from the floor where the unpackers will no doubt unceremoniously dump them. To set up a working kitchen. To organise the Internet, phone, tv installation, cable connection.

I love this apartment and can't wait to live in it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Singapore 4: Found

This afternoon, to celebrate three weeks of being in Singapore I left my brand new iPhone 5 in a taxi. Or rather it slipped out of my pocket where it should not have been to start with.

Of course this being ever efficient and honest Singapore it's been found and handed back by the driver.

I have so many things to tell you - I even started another post this morning - it'll all have to wait till tomorrow. In the meanwhile I still have my shiny new toy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Singapore 3: Din Tai Fung

Two weeks in and SOME people are already complaining about all the rice and noodles they are being FORCED to eat. I say get with the program yo! Isn't this what we came for, The divine food?

Maybe it's my Malayali genes doing their thing, coming out to play now that they are in paradise - but i find I could eat this very carb based diet easily. I shouldn't but I oh so could. And with an absolute plethora of places to eat in this city we are so so spoilt for choice.

We are staying with family so there are plenty of home cooked meals but ever so often when out trying to get phone connections or look at apartments or just entertain a small person we find ourselves eating out. And what a treat it has been!

So the first of my reviews is for a restaurant chain called Din Tai Fung.
It's a Taiwanese dim sum place with five branches around the city. We went to the one in Visma Atria (one of the many many malls that Singapore is dotted with) for lunch a few days after we arrived and were trying to forge a normal routine. It serves dim sum and buns and the odd sautéed vegetable and noodle. You get a little clipboard from the lady at the entrance and while she tries to find you a table you are expected to look at the picture board with it's codes and tick off what you would like to order. There's a board with pictures and numbers and the briefest of descriptions to guide you. As you are guided to your table they take away the clipboard leaving one copy on the table and shortly the piping hot dimsum begin to make their way towards the hungry folk. Simple and effective.

We were four adults and two children this fine weekday, between apartment viewings. Hot bothered and starving. We all pointed at things on the board and ordered way too much. We sat at a table outside the glass fronted kitchen, this kept the kids busy for a bit. Soon there were divine dumplings and stuffed buns, rice and vegetables and nobody talked or looked up for a long long while.

Notable were the vegetable dumplings (bursting with flavor) and the pork buns (fluffy and light and moreish.

I'm told by more than one source that it's only the one at Visma Atria that is this good. The other four are disappointing in comparison. It's a test I intend to carry out myself. In the meanwhile if you are in Singapore I encourage you to go try these.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Singapore 2: reading material

Not sure how but I managed to travel
across the continents without a book to read. The Tiger who came to tea
does not help. Especially because I cannot read it (I recite now having read it about 12 million times).

Jetlag and the dramatic change of temperature meant it was about 5 days before I noticed the lack of reading material.

With the aim of rectifying this terrible injustice (insignificant in the face of world peace and famine but much like a famine for my mind) I legged it to Kinukonya which is a fabulous bookshop in the famous takashimaya shopping mall. Resisted the purchase of Joseph Anton and Casual Vacancy (too new and expensive) and bought two other books instead - Am reading 'may we be forgiven' by A.M. Homes to start with. Shockingly these two cost me $42. Thats £21. Brings into sharp focus how expensive this city state is.

Am very pleased that our shipment has arrived and is only awaiting an apartment to be confirmed before being delivered and unpacked. It's chock a block full of new books. I kept amazon propped up before our packers arrived. Can't wait to see my books and am only going through my two new books slowly so that I don't have to spend another $40 too soon!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Singapore 1: the jetlag

So near on a week in lush tropical Singapore. Flight over was pretty good and we all had about 8 of the 12 hours to sleep. Huge big comfortable beds made it a blissful slumber - I didn't even get through my first movie without dropping off! Kid was impeccably behaved thanks to a well timed and executed bribery with Thomas trains plan. Pat on the back thank you. Mini meltdown as we came out of the airport but for the 15 hours before being tear and scream free that was but a small aberration.

Staying in utter comfort at V's brothers home - ready made companion of cousin with similar taste in toys (trains and cars) has made it brilliant for the Kid. He's having showers, playing, fighting and generally loving the attention. This is the reason we moved, sibling fathers and sibling sons.

Our body clocks are crazy though. Every night is different and some we are awake till 3am, some we are asleep at 5pm. We are having random naps and struggling to catch a whole night of rest.

We have done 4 days of house hunting. More on that later.

At the moment all I can say is that we are here and are not missing London but certainly missing our friends..... Hello Singapore!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The weather makes it easy

Ok let's get it out the way - in many ways I am an extremely shallow person and I make no bones about it. My primary motivation for the move, besides the shortening distance to India and family, is the weather. There I've said it - I care about the weather. I must be British. I want to live in the heat and I don't mind the torrential downpours very day or few days because after they beat down on the green lush earth I hear the sun comes out. without. fail.

I know it's silly being so hellbent on living somewhere warm and truth be told my tolerance for winter has increased. And I have a stellar collection of overcoats. Classics, heavy and timeless, offering all the warmth for a range of occasions that winter brings. But chance and choice being offered I'd rather have a heat headache than a miserable winter mood. Looking at grey drizzle torture dripping rain does not my ideal life make.

The past few weeks, almost as if to taunt me, the weather has been brilliant. Just the perfect yellow shade of sunshine bouncing off this beautiful city, it's old and new architecture complementing each other. In winter and particularly on rainy days I find the old buildings look a bit sad and the difference between the old and new a bit jarring. But not these two weeks, as if my eyes have re-calibrated themselves mellow.

I've had bus rides and park walks and a steady sunshine with a whispering breeze on my back. I've had perfect strangers smile and tube rides on empty trains. All this is usual, factors of September weather and my child in school, but I'm seeing it anew I think, trying to capture it before we go.

A grey morning of drizzle and forecast of gales over the next few days has thumped me back from the sunny London dream. I remember what it is that I am looking forward to. Sun sun sun.

I've shipped my stellar winter overcoat collection to Singapore. It should still be in style when we come back to these winters in a decade or so.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My glittering London

It's been a bit of an overwhelming week in this part of the world. We've been saying goodbye to our most loved bits of London and the brilliant people who are our London family.

I was in high street Kensington last week, for an unavoidable errand, and had time to spend before meeting a friend in Covent Garden. So errand complete I decided to take a long and leisurely bus ride all that way.

Have I ever told you how in my earliest months in London I would pack myself a sandwich, throw a bottle of water and pack of crisps into my bag and take bus journey after bus journey, terminus to terminus and then back till I had explored every bit of London? Day after day for months. Really.

Well after years of rushing around on the tube and behind a small child at some pace, last week when opportunity to take the bus ride presented itself I grabbed it with both hands. The bus trundled along slowly stopping every few hundred metres to take on and let down people. I sat on the sunny side taking it all in. The beautiful architecture of the Royal Albert Hall and the green throbbing expanse of Hyde Park. The impressive facade of the National Gallery and the the backbone road to Buckingham Palace. And of course the office goers, tourists, mummies with buggies.

And there, in those sun dappled moments, I was thinking about the last decade and how we worked and played and made this city ours. At one time I thought this was it, where we'd live forever, home. But that's a discussion for another post. The sun and subtle beauty of this city was making me think about our decision and more than anything making me nostalgic for this life we are about to move on from.

I know that despite all the hard decisions and changes and upheavals to schedule we have made the right choice for our lives. After an emotional goodbye with one of my dearest friends this afternoon I have no doubt that this has been a brilliant decade in a glittering city. Its time to go but in the words of the cheesy movie, 'We'll be back!'.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

This minimalist life

It's wierd but when we bought this apartment we wanted desperately to be minimalists. Somewhat for aesthetic reasons, somewhat for the ease of keeping it clean and somewhat for the slight OCD of order.

We were anything but minimalist. Lots of furniture, near a thousand books and a kitchen groaning at its seams. And after the kid arrived our things grew to magnificent proportions, often threatening to overpower us. I am ruthless in clearing clutter though so I never kept things for sentimental reasons just random practical ones. Like, why have only two rectangular Pyrex covered dishes when I can have six. After all the day may come when I cook and need to store 6 dishes at once.

Anyway, about 2 years ago I decided enough was enough and began the slow ruthless journey of de cluttering and disowning many of the objects from our home. I gave away mountains of baby clothes and toys, kitchen things and even decorative things I no longer loved. It was a slow slow process but the house was starting to creak less.

When this new continent move came about it was the perfect opportunity to purge. And it's worked out well. I've spent weeks trawling through things and finding new homes for them. I'm of the recycle and recycle and pass forward school of thought. This has been a tiring process but so worth it to see someone else enjoy something we have enjoyed.

Yet even with all this giving away/ throwing out we managed to load 90 boxes into the container on the day. Not very minimalist at all. The departure of the container made our house a bit like a cathedral, echo-ey. Its refreshing living with so few things and having all this free space. And although 95% of our furniture has remained here for future tenants it's all the bits that go on top and around it that have gone.

And now while that container sways it's way to Singapore we are enjoying our last month with minimal possessions and loving it. It's almost like I'm breathing again - gulps of fresh air and inhaling space - in this quite large (but not really) space.

Till we get there and fill our next home with possessions, furniture and ourselves I'm living the minimalist dream.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


In January of 2002 I followed V to this country, him already a student here and me a new bride. I arrived on a wet and dark evening, the drizzle and wind just the first of many winters worth. The delight of seeing my newly minted husband meant that dragging my one samsonite with it's prescribed 23 kgs on the tube to our tiny studio an hour away went unnoticed.

After a decade which has seen us live as tenants, change multiple jobs, buy a n apartment, make it our home, have a child and build a circle of acquaintances, friends and friends who are family, we are off on a new and much sought after adventure.

We move to the sunnier climes of Singapore in a month. The many material things that constitute our home are being packed as I write this.

I have a lot more to write about our move. Watch this space.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

All the wives

While V had a day of Olympic tennis the kid and I stayed home to clean and polish and play and cook. We had a very busy Saturday.

Still trying to get through my resolution of de-cluttering (get over it already 30in2005, I hear you say), we decided to tackle the books once the polishing was done!

Children's books first - managed to separate about 20 books that he has outgrown. Mine were a bit harder to deal with because I already gave away 120 books over December and January.

At first glance it seemed like I had pruned enough. But as I went through my bookshelves with a stricter eye I have myself a new rule. I would only keep a book that I had re-read or had every intention to do so. If only to find one line or page that meant something to me. A quick read of the book jackets would have to be enough to stir my memory of the story and tell me if I wanted to keep it. So that is what I did. With so many books to go through it took it's time and I have only managed to get through about half. And so far about 20 books have made their way to our hallway, sitting bravely in a pile waiting for new homes, new readers.

Interestingly I found a pile of books with each title including the word wife or wives. Took a picture (I'm getting better at this documenting of my mundane life) - here it is. Any guesses as to which ones I'm keeping and which I'm giving away? (a: top one, b c d e below it).

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Haberdashery 2

I am so technologically challenged that I couldn't edit to add some pictures and text to my last post. Hence the new post.

I wish I had more nimble fingers and a creative mind. I have to resort to just browsing this twee little shop and enjoying the colours and simple order and higgledy piggledy ness of things in it - wierd how it manages to be both.

I've discovered how much I love independent shops. And even when I don't need anything I find myself buying something small just to support that effort.

Today my friend and I bought some large wooden letters to be painted by our kids on the next day in. The £1.50 for each will in fact buy us at least 20 minutes of activity, sticking, painting and talking about the alphabet with small whiny children while we lament the wind and rain. Some things are priceless.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hello Olympics - 15

Amazing fireworks. Sorry about my rubbish camera phone - they were incredibly close and clear and spectacular but look fuzzy in the pictures.

It's been a remarkable opening ceremony for something so hotly anticipated. Unlike the previous perfectly choreographed opening at Beijing this was choreographed to seem more characterful and quirky. They got a lot in and it was incredible how much fun the participants looked like they were having.

We drank champagne and skipped between the TV and terrace to watch the bits inside the stadium and the changing lights and fireworks visible from where we stood. We ate and drank and chatted and critiqued and laughed and praised and sang/ hummed/ played at guessing songs.

About to go to bed now, the adrenaline rush from the excitement of the evening means I shall read till I unwind. If I haven't said it before I'll say it now - we are so incredibly lucky to have witnessed this. I love my London life.

Hello Olympics - 14

Torchbearers x 7 young athletes nominated by 7 Olympians. Brilliant idea. Gorgeous cauldron.

Hello Olympics - 13

Fireworks! I love my house!

Hello Olympics - 12

Ussain! Rockstar athlete!

Hello Olympics -11


Hello Olympics - 10

Reflections of the tragic events of 7/7, the day after the Olympics were awarded to London 7 years ago.

Hello olympics - 9

The hilarious Rowan Atkinson - simply the best face ever!

Hello Olympics - 8

Mary Poppins.

Hello Olympics - 7

The NHS!

Hello Olympics - 6

James bond and the queen.

And the lights as Daniel Craig parachutes down.

Hello Olympics - 5

The rings.

Hello Olympics - 4

Industrial revolution. And feminism at the Olympics.

Hello Olympics - 3

Dinner is served.

Hello Olympics - 2

All the amazing yachts and super yachts in the dock by us. The buzz of people and machinery and adrenaline is palpable in the air.

Hello Olympics - 1

It's time! And we have a fab view from our home. We have friends round, snacks, champagne and a hearty if simple meal. Here goes:

This is the sky as the red arrows have gone by.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


One of the loveliest things about London - also one of the things that is rapidly disappearing - is the number of independent shops.

I'm not one for sewing or knitting (two pastimes oft pressed upon our summer vacations) but I absolutely love looking at the colours and orderliness of a haberdashers. The last one I went to was in John Lewis in Oxford street and that was about 9 years ago, in pursuit of white ribbons for a campaign I was involved in.

Wandered into the lovely Papillion in Greenwich days after it opened. It's an adorable little shop full of colour and creative ideas and managed by it's talented owner for most of the day. It has skeins of wool, ribbon, thread and fabric, all the accompaniments to create things from knotting and knitting needles to kits. It was a cheerful interlude on the way to the park, and I even bought some wooden letters to do a craft project with my son.

Don't know that I'll take up cross stitch again but I know where to look if I do.

Papillion: 90 College Approach, Greenwich SE10 9HY

Sunday, July 22, 2012

An east end Saturday night

Went out for dinner with friends last night. Stuck to the bit of London I love most. Excellent meal at Upstairs at the Ten Bells. The buttermilk chicken with pine salt was divine and I could have gladly eaten those moreish bites all night.

Not the largest portions (and me, I am partial to comforting large bowls of food) but beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. Shabby chic with creaky old stairs and a high ceilinged room above the noisy pub. Very lovely attentive waiters and an ambience perfect for an evening out. Don't know that I would go back seeing as there is much more of London unexplored. But I would definitely recommend this to try.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

37. In the real world.

Age has lowered my tolerance for a number of things. Included in this list are gigantic delicious meals (I can no longer do a buffet any justice) and people who think the world exists to serve their needs (I no longer seem to speak to 3 people who till very recently were pivotal to my life).

The food one is easy enough to solve - eat less, be healthier. The people one is trickier - after many many attempts to understand the others badly/ unexplained points of view I now have to stand my own ground and get on with my own life. While this is taking up more of my mind/ heart space than I would like, I feel like i have to stand by what I believe in or else who am I. Even though this makes me look and feel like a resident of Old Street (not the physical place but the mental space that older people seem to need to adjust to). I'm sad like you wouldn't believe but I'm also right in my own mind (or maybe just to old to alter my point of view) and nothing short of an apology or a change in behaviour will get me out of this mindset.

But enough of dwelling on this unhappiness. Today I'm 37. And I've had a lovely string of celebratory days since the beginning of July to mark it. I went for dinner with two friends from my local area to a favourite Japanese restaurant called Roka. Then last week I went for dinner with 6 mums in the neighborhood to a lovely Turkish deli. Last night V and I went for dinner to Goodmans - a wonderful steak place. Today after a lazy morning we went back to Roka for the sumptuous Sunday brunch. And this coming week I have dinner with my gals in the offing. If food could assure me of how wonderful a year lies ahead it's certainly trying it's very hardest.

I got a lovely pair of earrings and a necklace from a friend. Two cd's from another friend and books and a dvd from yet another set of lovelies. A whole new wardrobe (with no black!) is being bought bit by bit. I alone am propping up the online economy!

I must say I like being 37. It feels solid and substantial. I know what I've written makes me sounds stubborn and stagnant and securely old. But in reality what I am is surer and stronger and satisfied with my life. Happy 37th to me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Three. Or Free

My son turned three on Friday. And compared to last years crazy playdate where 14 children and about 30 adults spent a Saturday at our house turning it inside out upside down, this year was tame as a goldfish going round it's bowl.

We had just 6 other kids, all within 5 months in age to him and all of whom live locally. We decorated simply with swirly yellow things hanging from the ceiling and lilac and yellow helium balloons floating amidst them.

As activities we had painting. Each child got a ceramic birdhouse and a tray of paints. And in the centre of our low plastic covered coffee table was a giant jar with about 40 different paintbrushes. When they were done with the birdhouses I gave them each a small square canvas with their names and the date on the side. With motherly supervision they each managed a lovely colorful hand print. I then acrylic sprayed everything on the balcony away from them so that the fumes wouldn't bother us. This made the colours pop and harden the paint against future exposure to water/ sun. Then they all went and jumped on the bed and scattered the contents of his toy boxes all over the house while I got lunch organised.

Our circular table had a pale yellow tablecloth with his wooden track encircling it. With a tunnel, bridge and toll gate for interest and every one of his wood engines on the track this made the table fairly interactive. We had square yellow paper plates, purple glasses, yellow cutlery and lilac napkins with sheep on them.

The cake was a marvelous train. We decided not to go for a Thomas the tank engine train as I imagined a mini meltdown involving a beloved character being cut. Instead My friend made this masterpiece - chocolate with sheet icing, Oreos for wheels and carriages piled high with m&m's. We also had a second cake, strawberry and marzipan, from Paul, which was not inflicted with spit from the mouths of 7 children blowing out candles with great vigour.

So the final menu was cake, fresh strawberries, chunks of cucumber, pots of yogurt, buttered bread and fresh salmon fishcakes to eat. For the adults a platter of cold cuts, baguette and cornichons. Juice for everyone.

Our return gift was the birdhouse and canvas each child had worked on, the reusable paint pots and a book individually chosen for each kid.

It was a small and intimate party. It was over in 3 hours from start to finish in the morning when the kids were in the best possible mood.

My son is three. Or as he yells 'free' while he tries to show us the correct number of fingers to accompany this announcement. Again and again. Loud louder loudest. As if if it is not said at the highest decibels we might not take this seriously.

Spending my morning with this bunch of little ones I fear we have moved on from the terrible twos only to land in the unknown but possibly terrifying threes! Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Motherland Motherlode - 2

It was apparent from numerous short forays in search of cold coffee that the many malls of Delhi were well equipped for the challenge.

Went for a wander one evening with a friend and while talking about how bloody expensive everything is and how the recession is a myth (kidding) and decided to stop for another cold coffee. This time in the middle of the mall, a counter surrounded by chairs and tables, no walls required.

This is what I saw. I had to try it. It was pretty gross.

Who do you think would be most offended by this, Italian chef or chettinad mami or punjabi tikka wielding folk? Or am I mistaken and all three would be willing embracers of such 'fusion' cuisine?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Jubilee celebrations

It's the long weekend in London, ostensibly to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. Almost every person I know is away, including V (4 day dash to India). It's brilliant for most people, taking advantage of the four day weekend and half term next week. Most people have made a proper getaway of it.

The ones who stayed are all soaking wet standing by the Thames this afternoon watching the flotilla of a 1000 boats on the Thames to mark the day. Its been endless dripping showers since last night. Kid and I stayed home and watched the watery parade on TV, alternating with the French Open while playing with trains and doing endless craft things. And marvelling (not) at the constant rain.

But we aren't always this curmudgeonly. Yesterday we went to a  jubilee celebration BBQ lunch in a friends backyard. There was bunting, flags, colour coordinated crockery, cutlery and napkins and two desserts artfully made to look like the flag and a ship with the queen on it. Also loads of BBQ'ed meats and vegetables, coronation chicken, pimms punch, strawberries and champagne. We had a brilliant time even though it was quite windswept and the sun came out for exactly 45 seconds the entire afternoon.

In the run up to this weekend there have been a swathe of specially commissioned TV programmes and series about various monarchy related things. Some of these have been quite splendid - like the ones on each of the queens palaces. What I have discovered about myself though is that while I am deeply interested in the history of this and other countries I am not a royalist. So while I'm happy she is having her jubilee I am not committed enough to attend street parties or stand by the Thames waiting for her royal yatch to go by. I'll happily take the four day weekend, though in my world everyday is a working day (looking after a small child) or a holiday (looking after a small child) depending on whom you ask.

Happy jubilee (apparently that is the appropriate form of greeting).