Saturday, March 22, 2014


A late night Saturday (by my standards alone - I'd go to bed when my Kid does if I could) and we are enjoying the soulful and jazz tunes of Dylan Foster at the Sultan Jazz club. 

V is becoming an expert at organising lovely evenings in the past few months. This was unexpected and we are having a lovely time. 

Dylan Foster's voice is more than nice although the accoustics aren't the absolute best. It's been an age though since I've been to listen to hear live music and for that alone this evening is lovely. We have just had a disappointing dinner down the road at Piedra Negra (over mushed guacamole, patatas bravas swimming in a sweet tomato sauce and over cooked burritos and quesadillas to finish) and this is more than making up for it. 

'Lovely Day' indeed. Dad, you would've loved this. When you coming to Singers again? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Housekeeping details

Of late I'm often amazed that I'm a grown up with my own home. Yesterday I was WhatsApp-ing with my closest pals from college and the son of one of them one just got elected to be head boy of his school. We were all congratulating her and I'm was like weren't we just in school ourselves?! Seems hardly possible that one of us has a child old enough to be a head boy. I totally get what my mom means now when she says she feels 21.

Anyway I've been having many such moments lately. Of looking around my house and being surprised at myself for having a house and wanting it to look a certain way. It all came to a head recently when the dining table that we chose over a year ago went bad for the second time. It's an old Indian wood and brass door balanced on some legs and with glass floating over the top. We both loved this door the second we saw it and this 10 seater has been the pride and joy of our home for a year. It was made by a store called Originals, where a lot of our furniture is from and a store I buy something from EVERYTIME I visit! So when it started to develop mould patches last year we called them and they took it away to have a look. Turned out it hadn't been sealed properly. Anyway, months later it had been dried out and sealed properly and was back looking as amazing as when it first arrived.

Without the glass that floats on top

Forward to three months ago and the mouldy patches were back. The store agreed that the mould was inside the old door and seemed intent on escaping. It's a health hazard and they have kindly agreed to take back this bespoke table and refund us. The table went this week and is unlikely to be able to be 'fixed' enough for use again. Instead of a refund though we have chosen to borrow a table from them while we wait for their containers to arrive and choose a new door. V loves the idea enough to wait for this exact style of table - we've been back a few times to look at shipments and haven't found anything that even comes close. I suspect it's going to be a long wait. 

In the meanwhile I was attempting to sort through cupboards which I don't open for months. I found a beautiful oversized glass bowl (similar to a large fish bowl but slightly shaped rather than completely round) which was a wedding present from a good friend of V's. She bought it in Germany and carried it to London in early 2002, shortly after our wedding. It's been used a handful of times to hold bundles of tulips but has mostly languished in the cupboard. Its quite large and ungainly on its own and you need an awful lot of flowers to make it look halfway decent. It's moved home three times and continents once. 

On a whim I decided to look up companies that make terrariums (which all this time I have been mistakenly calling terraniums) and found one right here in Singapore. Found this guy called Daniel who runs a small store and online portal called 'Love in a bottle'. Called and explained I had a vase and would he please turn it into a piece of live art? He said 'Yes' and I took him the bowl three weeks ago. His little shop in Joo Chiat road had lots of lovely little pieces. I bought a seashell shaped terrarium for my sis-in-law as part of her birthday present and dropped off my vase. We exchanged a few design ideas by email and finally yesterday the terrarium has arrived. I LOVE IT! 

Sitting pretty on my coffee table

I have been gazing at it the whole afternoon. Kid has taken over the careful job of spraying it with water every three days. I shall have to watch for over-enthusiasm but it's a great little project for him. I'm so so pleased with it. I wish we had done it before. 

It turns out that I'm such a middle aged Aunty, loving my house with all my might, so exactly the opposite of what I imagined a grown up life would be . 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Expectations from life

Forgive me while I ramble and make a pigs ear out of this. 

In my worst, most self pitying moments last year I asked for advice from a few close friends and family. Almost all of them had advice on how to get out of my pity party unscathed:
1. I should count my blessings - I do have a material life that lacks for nothing.
2. Lower my very high expectations of everything (and that this would make me so very happy)
3. Stop depending on other people, you can't change them so don't waste any effort.
4. Get a job. You will have no time to sit and think about your expectations! 

Well, aside from the fact that I do have materially whatever I wish for (and I never wished for much to start with so it's all been a Very Pleasant Surprise) and I count all my blessings, most of my expectations are about behaviour, about feelings, about caring. 

And I do understand at the base level that it is impossible to change a persons true nature, that people are essentially self centred and selfish. And yet I expect better. More kindliness towards someone that has been kind. Love and respect for parents who have spent their entire lives in teaching you right from wrong and the value of things. Thinking less of ones own happiness (in already happy and rich lives) and more of what you could do to make others happy. Loving another's child with almost as much zeal as ones own. Not taking for granted that everyone will rock up when you need them but that you in no way need to do the same. Expect them to keep in regular touch with you but not reciprocate. Not to feel invisible. Life, I tell you, has been full of disappointments.

I tried for a few months to lower my expectations but man, that just hurt. I felt an almost physical pain when I realised I could rely on exactly 4 people in the whole entire world. And then too it would be a bit like pulling teeth. And I get I can't rely on Everyone for my emotional well being but I find that I can't even rely on people for anything. Not to be kind, not to be thoughful, not to be gentle, not to be present.

And I get that people have busy lives, their own priorities. But I think each person is surrounded by people, in varying of degrees of closeness, like radiating circles and that most people, after they get to circle 2 (still close family) just do not give a sh*t. Some people don't even get past circle 1 (themselves and a spouse) so self centred is their existence. And I'm sorry but much as I tried that lowering my expectations cape I just found it too made for an empty existence. I want others to have expectations of me (to be a good kind person in whatever way they need) and to have expectations of others (to be loved, thought about, cherished in my many roles as a person on this planet) and I know that I fulfil many expectations others have of me (to care, to connect, to do, to love, to cherish). I don't think it's that hard, you just have to want it. And sadly I seem to have filled my life with people who don't. 

If I were to write an epitaph for myself I should like to say 'she tried her hardest to be kind and gentle'. And I know that try as I might many people think I am miles from this. And while I may well be far away from my goal of 'kind person' I try, very consciously, to think about my family and friends every single day. Whether it's a phone call or a text or a WhatsApp or a present or a laugh or a coffee or a meal or taking children on days out or taking parents on vacation or visiting relatives or posting postcards & surprises to people on the otherside of the world, nearly every one of these thoughts is begun with kindness and love and wanting as much to show my love for them and in some small way to know they love me back.

I recently received a lovely long hand letter from one of my dearest friends in the world. She and I have had many experiences in common and now that we live in different continents this writing has bound us into firmer friends. As I have sat here for a few nights cobbling together a reply I've been thinking more and more about this, these small wonders that just link people and that people are so very careless with. I'm trying to be mindful but after many months of that near physical pain I found I could not accept the whole 'have no expectations and you will be happier'. I may not be much happier if I expect but am continually disappointed. But I will certainly be fuller than if I empty myself of all feeling. 

I'm rambling, I know. And I'm not seeking answers for any of this. I've let go of a lot of this in 2013 (undoubtedly one of the years of greatest self doubt for me) but I still live in hope that someone somewhere will surprise me by keeping up their end of the relationship bargain.