Friday, July 12, 2019

No one calls it SFO anymore

This morning V and I went back to Mama’s San Francisco, a breakfast joint on the corner of Washington Square (Filbert and Stockton). The last time we were here it was a cold winters morning and unbeknownst to us I was pregnant with our one and only Kid. Now my child is 10, I’m nearing my mid 40s. 

Breakfast was excellent and the line out the door completely valid. Mama’s looks exactly as it did over a decade ago, a new lick of pale yellow paint and a few more knickknacks on its shelves the only minor changes. In addition to breakfast V and I shared a slice of crumb cake to celebrate our vacation and all the birthdays this week. 

There are many highlights of our week but only 2 I want to mention right now. One is the weather - really really cold and foggy but utterly enjoyable. I want prepared enough for this and a GAP run has been made to ensure we don’t freeze. Second is the wonderful Exploratorium - a Science based tinkering space with 6 different areas of games and tinkering opportunities. Forget about Kid, we were mesmerized and despite spending an entire day there we could have spent another few. 

Today we are enjoying a boat cruise in the Bay. Fog is almost but not quite obscuring the grand Golden Gate Bridge and rocky Alcatraz . The water is calm and the swirls of clouds around us just add to the atmosphere. As we approach the last part of our American vacation I am reminded that I need to be a better recorder of life. Better than an Instagram posts paragraph that is. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Home is where your folks are

I’m such a lucky girl. It was my mums 70th birthday last week and I got to go to Delhi and spend a few days with her and my dad. The other key birthday guy was my brother who plays the role of perpetual birthday present by sharing her birthday. My dads sister and my mums brother & sil all flew in to spend those few days with us. My sister in law, her mum and my absolutely adorable nephew made up the pack. It was a fluid few days with lazy meals and impromptu plans and a lot of laughter and reminiscing. Caught a Hindi movie, went to a book store and drank a lot of cold coffees along the way. I didn’t manage to pierce my nose (something I have been talking about for over 2 decades) or get my act together for a meal with friends. I did manage a morning of chatty catch ups with one of my favourite cousins and a dear friend though so felt I’d redeemed myself.

The 4 days flew by. My mum loved her birthday presents of hand drawn Ganesha’s from Kid and I. We had a wonderful birthday lunch for them both. My brother had to settle for a cheesy Kung Fu T-shirt and a hug. My mother with her youthful outlook on life seemed to enjoy her day, the company, the food and the pretty perfect early March temperature. 

Then I had 5 friends arrive from HK and we began a whirlwind, packed 5 day trip around Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Long road trips and questions about monuments, startling historical facts and early starts to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise and without many people, shopping and stitching and interesting meals in wonderful locations. It all went like a dream, so very fast after the many slow months of planning. 

For me it was absolutely fascinating to see India through their eyes and lens. I hadn’t thought about it how to explain that everyday Indian life before - the many things I take for granted and do not really even see anymore. We had of course in the run up to this talked about practical things like transport and sightseeing and guides and food but I had forgotten to explain the minutiae of that everyday life. It was interesting to realise the sheer amount of things I know about Indian daily life and various systems, clothing, ties and bonds but haven’t ever had to explain to someone for whom this is a new experience. The sheer sensory overload of color, smells, people, animals and textures for a new person was interesting to watch. They were excellent visitors - respectful and curious without trying to judge. We had some amazing experiences and I was most delighted to share the always smiling and positive faces of people - from workers on a farm to small children selling trinkets by the road. It went swimmingly well and all too soon the trip was nearly over.

We had a big meal with my folks and my bestie and a dear ex-HK friend. The next day we had a chance to look at Delhi in full spring bloom - and what a shownit is in dappled winter sunlight, Lutyens Delhi is always a delight that makes me nostalgic for my childhood. A last minute dash to buy up as much as we could fit in our groaning suitcases and then a last stop at my home and that’s where I saw it: how much my mum and dad are my home. The way she delegates looking after the house, her pride in it and it’s contents and how welcoming she is to all who cross its threshold. And how even nearly 20 years later she makes me feel like that is my home. A place I can totally let go and be the kid. My mum, with her youthful heart of a 25 year old, she is my home. I’m so incredibly lucky. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Small steps

Like many I am fascinated by Planet Earth style programs. Watching a pod of dolphins frolick or snow leopards in the wild, they have me in awe. Wildlife safaris for real, shows about once in a lifetime sightings of snow leopards, things we wouldn’t naturally see in our everyday life, these things are my things. 

Last year the environmental news was either rhetoric that global warning is fake news or the many ways in which global warming was manifesting on our fragile planet. I’m a firm seat owner on the ‘it’s real and we should be very afraid’ bandwagon and big on how small changes can have large impacts. The buzz on how we should use less plastic straws and toothbrushes and plastic bags - my take is that every little helps. While there is lots of ‘plastic island in the ocean’ or ‘our fish are made of plastic’ type of scaremongering there is one view that it’s all a crapshoot at this point. 

Who knows how much of a crapshoot it is? No one does, is my firm answer. Figures can be manipulated and pictures are the same - they only tell one side of any story. However, for a few years now, my philosophy has been to minimise my own effects as far as possible. Who knows if every drop makes the ocean etc? And so I do a few very small things very consistently and which may have only a negligible effect:
  1. I only ever use my own take away cup for coffee/ tea if I’m getting a takeaway. If I don’t have my own cup I will not buy a coffee outside but skip it. Helps to not drink as much coffee/ tea as I normally would. Same for water. Always carry my own bottle and never buy plastic bottles. 
  2. I will only use my own reusable bag(s) to shop. Again, if I don’t have it with me I won’t buy anything. This greatly helps the ‘reduce’ in purchasing impulsively.
  3. Try and use local producers and buy package free produce when I can - this is harder said than done especially here but I’ve managed to find milk, greens, fruit all with low carbon footprints, recyclable or compostable packaging, minimal transportation required. 
  4. Stopped the use of cling film to cover anything/ store stuff. Reshaped my kitchen habits quite a bit. 

There are still many many areas where our household can improve. We are trying - lots of discussion about ‘waste not, want not’, ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ - all to influence our own wastefulness and our Kid to grow into a more conscientious individual. We are better at some things than others but aiming for greater consistency this year. I try and read and keep informed of what the various environmental impact areas are in our daily lives and see what could work for us. It’s often quite hard and I fail miserably in many areas but it is not for lack of trying. In the face of unending marketing  and consumerism it’s very hard to make good choices and it’s definitely an uphill and often unpopular battle. No idea what the effect might be and if ever anyone alive today will actually see the benefits but I can safely see it calms me to know that I didn’t give up trying. All advice welcome.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Tea light, anyone?

If I ever ask my friend M to join me for lunch because I’m headed ‘into town’ she laughs and asks what I need at IKEA. For as long as we have both lived in HK this is a running joke between us. According to her I’m always dashing to IKEA for something or the other or to accompany a friend looking for something in its expanse. I’ll admit that I’m in IKEA every few months - I’m partial to ironing board covers (which both I and my helper are guilty of burning holes in), teaspoons (which ‘magically’ get eaten by the bin) and random stationary that I do not need. I particularly like their food hall for smoked salmon and lately their fresh bakery goods. I’m such a domestic goddess 🙄

Looks like my first IKEA trip of 2019 is imminent. In irony of ironies I actually ran out IKEA tea lights. I always feel like I need them and usually I come home with a pack of 100 only to find a box stuffed to the gills with tea lights. I groan and stuff the new 100 pack in, shut the box and forget all about them. 

Last night we hosted 8 friends for a post dinner, post New Year holiday catch-up drinks and snacks. In an effort to create ‘ambience’ I pulled out our bigger box of glass tea light holders and told Kid to get this organised. He decided 20 would be plenty so 20 assorted glass and ceramic minis. I then pointed him in the direction of the tea light box while I continued to prep mango salsa and guacamole. Next I hear we only have 6 white tea lights. Of course this cannot be true. We should, in theory, have at least 250 tea lights if not more. I abandon all chopping and mixing and join him to check the box. What do you know? 6 white and 8 assorted green and yellow tea  lights is all that is left. 

So we began the year with 14 tea lights, 8 friends, 4 snacks and peals of laughter. The evening ended with 3 of us making plans to go to IKEA next week. Turns out this is how middle-aged homebodies celebrate New Years. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Pillow fluffer

I was achey and nauseous before the flight and so V, who was given an impromptu upgrade at the check-in counter, offered to swap seats with me. Normally I would have protested as he is the one heading into work after the horrid red eye but I felt unwell enough to need the rest and so I gratefully took it.

I waited just off the ramp this morning and as Kid walked off the flight he told me all about how he ate a portion of chicken and pasta (so he could stay awake and look at the screen) and didn’t sleep very well. Why? ‘Because normally you are there to adjust my pillow while I sleep.’ I asked him if he had missed me and he stated categorically ‘NO, NOT AT ALL’. I think an admission of dereliction of pillow fluffling duties is as much of an ‘I missed you’ as I’m going to get. 

Sleeping the first day away

What a first day! Sat at the airport now waiting for our flight back. 

Last night we hung out at V’s brothers home in Mumbai eating Indian Chinese food, chatting nineteen to the dozen and sipping drinks - and shortly after midnight we all repaired to bed. I woke up at 5am and let’s just say the tummy was not happy. A fair few hours of digestive issues followed - with accompanying puking 🤮 interspersed with mini naps to stave off the dizziness. Spent the day laying on my sis in law’s bed - both she and I had the bad food apparently - lots of napping, eating probiotics and starving the bug away. Better this evening - enough to catch this flight. Hopefully the worst day of the year is behind me. 

2019, you better be good.