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.